The Coalition government has attacked the CFEMU for a “culture of contempt for the law,” following the release of a report indicating record levels of criminal activity on Australian building sites.
A new report has uncovered nearly 1000 violations of federal workplace rules on construction sites around the country in the year to June, with union officials disproportionately represented amongst alleged lawbreakers.
The report released by the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate describes “alarming rates” of criminal activity on Australia’s building sites, and refers to an “increasing battle” against members of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
According to the Fair Work Building and Construction report 2014-15 saw a 50 per cent leap in legal action within the building sector to reach unprecedented heights, with most cases involving the CFMEU. The state of Queensland in particular has emerged as a “hotspot” for complaints within the building sector.
The number of penalties imposed upon union members for right-of-entry infractions saw a staggering tenfold surge during the 2014-15 year, while those for coercion leapt 64 per cent.
Inspectorate head Nigel Hadgkiss decried a “severe lack” of the rule of law within the construction industry despite the concerted efforts of the agency to stymie criminal activity.
“I regret to report that the 2014 – 15 financial year has been marked by alarming rates of lawless in the building and construction industry,” said Hadgkiss in the report’s forward statement.
“I believe the contents of this annual report demonstrate two important points: firstly that the rule of law is severely lacking in the industry; and secondly, that the agency is doing all it can within its jurisdiction and means to curb that lawlessness.”
The report’s revelations provide the Coalition government with ample ammunition to attack the opposition Labor party and its leader Bill Shorten for their extensive involvement with the unions.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said that the findings of the report “further confirms the disturbing reality that has been obvious in the building industry for far too long,” and expressed concern about the “CFMEU’s culture of contempt for the law.”