West Gate Bridge dispute ends

May 16, 2009

MELBOURNE— A 12-week industrial dispute involving workers on the West Gate Bridge strengthening project ended on May 16. Workers accepted an agreement between the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and construction company John Holland.

Thirty-nine workers were sacked in March after John Holland refused to honour a collective agreement between the unions and subcontracting firm Civil Pacific Services.

Protests by the sacked workers, with community support, led to a significant delay in the project.

The settlement includes a standard agreement for the mixed metal industry and the reinstatement of 23 sacked workers. The reinstatement of a further nine workers is under review. John Holland also agreed to drop legal action for damages against the unions, individual workers and protesters.

Union sources told Green Left Weekly that, as part of the settlement, the CFMEU and AMWU that that greement signed signed did not include a "non-strike clause". It allowed for industrial action, but could make the unions liable for heavy penalties for some unlawful industrial action on John Holland sites in Victoria over the next two years.

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