Workers take protest to five-star hotel

Issue 

Workers take protest to five-star hotel

By Vannessa Hearman

MELBOURNE — A combined delegates rally involving all construction unions is scheduled later this month to discuss the growing problem of non-union labour in the industry.

More than 3000 building workers massed outside the Hotel Sofitel in Collins Place on March 24 to protest the use of non-union labour in the construction of a Formula-One motel in Tullamarine.

Formula-One, Sofitel and Novotel are owned and operated by the French Accor chain. The workers, members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union (CFMEU), chanted, "We're angry, we're loud, we're union and we're proud".

The rally then marched to the Hotel Novotel, where workers are not unionised and are subject to individual contracts. A smaller rally was also held outside the Novotel in Glen Waverley, an outer suburb of Melbourne.

The CFMEU was accused of breaching the Workplace Relations Act by the government's Office of the Employment Advocate when it negotiated with the contractor, Castoro Constructions, to unionise the motel site. Union sources said that Accor has begun negotiations with the union over the issue of unionisation on the site.

CFMEU delegate Michael Bull told Green Left Weekly that attempts to erode the collective bargaining power of workers must be resisted.