Concrete workers win union agreement at Barangaroo

February 18, 2015
Workers celebrate their win. Photo: CFMEU Construction & General NSW

Concrete placement workers employed by Boral/De Martin and Gasparini (DMG) have won their battle for a union Agreement, securing better pay and conditions, including restoration of their site allowance.

The workers greeted the news from the negotiating team on February 18 with fists in the air and chants of, "Who are we? We're CFMEU!"

A substandard, non-union agreement was put to the workers by the company before Christmas.

This was overwhelmingly rejected, and workers took protected strike action to secure a union agreement that would improve their pay and conditions.

The workers maintained a picket at the giant Barangaroo project on Darling Harbour from February 13. Supporters visited the site each day to show their solidarity.

Clearly the industrial action had an impact. Work was held up on the Barangaroo site, as well as other construction sites in the city.

According to a CFMEU Construction & General Division statement issued on February 18, the workers won a pay increase, site allowance and retained their shutdown weekends and the RDO calendar. They did this in the face of massive pressure to concede these issues in the face of the company’s demands for an agreement that complied with the Abbott Government’s Draft Code for the Building Industry.

CFMEU NSW Construction & General Division State Secretary Brian Parker stated, “The DMG worker have shown that by sticking together, being strong and being Union, these workers have won a great Union EBA that will secure them, and their families, decent wages and conditions”.

Parker had earlier told Green Left Weekly: "There have been 118 agreements ratified in our industry so far. This will be the first agreement for concrete placers in the industry.

"It is a test of strength. Whatever deal is won here will go across the board."

The company employed a range of tactics to bully and intimidate workers, including the attempted use of strikebreakers.

Parker told Green Left Weekly during the dispute that the company had offered the workers substandard pay compared to the rest of the industry and an agreement that could have casualised the workforce and forced workers to work on 'shut-down weekends'.

The feeling during the dispute was one of determination. Rocco Ianni, a member of the union consultative committee, told Green Left Weekly: "This issue has been going on for eight or nine months. The workers are acting to protect their rights and conditions.

"This is the biggest concreting company in NSW. This agreement will set a standard in the industry.”

Vincente, a striking worker, said, "This is not mainly about money, but about conditions. This is a campaign for the future of us and our families."

The victory of these workers shows that resolve, determination and discipline can take on a multinational like Boral and the government's anti union laws and win.

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