Actions by construction giant John Holland have led to 40 workers being sacked from the Melbourne Westgate Reconstruction project because they did not accept an agreement that would mean they earned less than the standard industry rate.
The workers, all members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union (CFMEU), were employed last December by subcontracting firm Civil Pacific Services to commence work on the project.
The CMFEU and AMWU had reached a collective agreement with Civil Pacific Services that paid industry standards, but it was then rejected by builder John Holland, which negotiated an agreement with the less militant Australian Workers Union. Holland's refusal to pay lead to Civil Pacific Services standing down the workers.
Legal proceedings against two AMWU and one CFMEU official for damages resulting from alleged "illegal strike action" were instigated after a picket on February 6.
The sacked workers have established a protest site outside John Holland's offices at 275 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne.