The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has scored a victory against the privatisation agenda of the state Coalition government after it abandoned plans to privatise the NSW Public Works Heritage Services, UnionsNSW announced on September 2.
About 40 stonemasons, scaffolders and roofers have been maintaining some of Sydney’s oldest buildings for more than 20 years, but in June last year Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet announced their jobs would be outsourced.
A very vocal, multifaceted campaign was run by the CFMEU workers. It included a petition signed by thousands of people, workers speaking to local council meetings and members of parliament from all sides being invited to visit the stonemasons and see their work first hand.
“It’s not just what we did, but the carry-on effects that we saw from our actions that I think made the difference,” CFMEU organiser Paul Connell said. “After signing our petitions, people would tell their friends, their families. Everyone was supportive of our campaign.”
The union campaigned around the workers’ unique skills and the loss if their jobs were privatised.
“The private sector doesn’t have the resources to train the next generation. Our heritage would be destroyed if it wasn’t for these workers,” Connell said. “NSW Public Works Heritage Services needs to be maintained into the future especially as more and more work needs to be done.”