Union wins big victory for workers' contracts

Photo: Cfmeuvic.com.au

Workers on Bovis Lend Lease building sites across the country have won site allowances and improved pay and conditions. Union and community action forced the company to complete negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with unions on July 31.

Strikes and protest action across 22 Lend Lease sites were launched on July 25, after the company failed to reach agreement with unions on conditions including restored site allowances, improved job security, improved pay and conditions for subcontractors, and union right of entry.

Victorian workers succeeded in stopping work on 12 sites for two weeks.

In the ACT, a picket was established on an ASIO construction job and federal police used violent tactics to try to break it.

Socialist Alliance member Paul Oboohov said that in response, about 100 union and community activists assembled at the Constitution Avenue site the next day to support workers. They also prevented several labour-hire electricians from entering the site in the process.

At the RNA Showgrounds in Brisbane, electrical work essential to the upcoming “Ekka” (agricultural show) was stopped by a 24-hour union and community picket, which successfully pressured the company to negotiate.

In Sydney, on the morning the breakthrough was announced, CFMEU construction division state secretary Brian Parker told picketers that from June next year all Lend Lease workers will receive a site allowance of $2 an hour.

This will rise from June 2015, in line with the union’s original claim. “It is a pretty significant victory,” he said.

CFMEU assistant national secretary Frank O’Grady said workers will now have a four-year agreement back-dated to March this year, a pay rise back-dated to January 1 and a 5%-a-year raise for hourly rates of pay and all allowances.

O’Grady said the new employment security clause will ensure that any labour-hire workers or subcontractors on a job site will be paid the same rates as direct employees of Lend Lease.

Site allowances and union right of entry were outlawed in building industry agreements under the former John Howard government, but have now been restored, O'Grady said. “The union will have right of entry when members want to see the union, not when the company says I’ll let you on the job,” he said.

“One of the best things about of this blue is how everyone has been working together and the unity across the board.”

As a result, he said, “we’ve been able to take on one of the biggest construction companies in Australia, and manage to settle an agreement on our terms”.