Campaign launched to abolish the ABCC

May 10, 2008

Five unions met in Brisbane on May 6 to launch a national campaign for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

The unions initiating the campaign are the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Workers Union and the plumbers' union.

Dave Noonan, CFMEU national secretary, told the May 6 Adelaide Advertiser that the workers in the construction industry should not be treated differently to other workers and should be awarded the same rights.

The ABCC was created under the Howard government in 2005 as a secret police force in the building industry. The ABCC is funded to the tune of $32 million a year and was set up to curb the industrial rights of construction unions, bankrupt the unions and destroy solidarity among the workers.

The highly politicised watchdog has extraordinary powers that deny construction workers basic civil rights, such as the right to remain silent if called for an interrogation. Refusal to attend a hearing can result in six months' imprisonment. The investigations are conducted in absolute secrecy and cannot be discussed with anybody but the lawyer allocated to the case.

There is no other group of workers in Australia that has been singled out to face draconian and unjust laws to such an extent.

Noonan also told the Advertiser that as long as such laws existed, former PM John Howard's era of Work Choices was not over.

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