Qld unions to rally against ABCC

September 7, 2008

"Construction unions across Australia are running the Rights On Site campaign against the union-bashing ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission].

"Workers in the construction industry deserve the same rights as all workers, and on Friday, September 12, there is a rally in Brisbane calling for the abolition of the ABCC, and in support of Victorian union activist Noel Washington", Matthew Rocks, campaigns coordinator for the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU), wrote in a September 1 message to union officials and delegates.

The rally, from 9.30am in Queens Park, will "hear a report on the ABCC campaign and about Noel Washington ... [a construction union organiser] facing six months' jail for refusing interrogation by the ABCC", Rocks wrote.

"The QCU is also encouraging unionists to respond to negative media portrayals of construction workers and write 'letters to the editor' and participate in radio talk-back, advocating that construction workers receive the same rights as other workers."

Rocks also circulated a letter from QCU general secretary Ron Monaghan to the Australian newspaper on September 1. It stated, in part: "On average one building worker dies every week on Australian building sites ... Sadly, much of it is preventable. But this is not the story that makes page one of Monday's edition of The Australian. The story that achieves such status is about alleged verbal abuse on one worksite.

"Australia's union leadership does not support abuse of any kind in the workplace ... However, let's turn our attention to provable, recorded loss of life ... When construction workers are given the same legal protection as other workers when it comes to their safety, then we can focus on who's yelling at who on the job."

According to the August 14 edition of Brisbane's Courier-Mail, a Building Labourers Federation worker faced questioning by the ABCC on August 15 after a work-site dispute over workplace safety.

The article continued: "BLF assistant state secretary David Hanna yesterday said several other Queensland building site safety officers were also facing ABCC interrogation. Mr Hanna said the government was allowing rogue operators to hide behind the ABCC by failing to rein in the authority. 'Bad laws are meant to be broken, and we will keep going until we get rid of them,' he said."

For more information about the campaign, visit http://www.rightsonsite.org.au.

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