Unions have slammed the passage of the Turnbull government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) bill through the Senate, calling it an attack on basic democratic principles.
The ABCC bill will see the resurrection of an ideological watchdog that stripped workers of their fundamental legal freedoms and removed the rights of working people working collectively to seek safe conditions and decent pay.
In particular, the bill removes the right to silence for construction workers called before the ABCC. This is not only in itself contrary to well-established civil rights but also sets a dangerous precedent.
Today, construction industry workers. Tomorrow, who knows?
The Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) says the rejuvenated ABCC will also:
The passage of the bill was achieved through a series of deals which saw the government accept amendments from a number of Independents in the Senate, including those in the Nick Xenophon group and Derryn Hinch.
The amendments include measures designed to protect contractors’ payment and procurement requirements for government contracts which favour Australian products and employees.
But none of this changes the fact that the chief purpose of the legislation is to make it harder for unions to protect the wages, conditions and safety of workers in what is a tough and physically dangerous industry.