The blockade of the Myer Emporium construction site in Melbourne should never have happened, a building and construction industry group says.
The comments follow a decision by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on Thursday to end the blockade and an agreement between the union and Grocon Pty Ltd to return to the bargaining table.
Master Builders Chief Executive Wilhelm Harnisch says the CFMEU’s decision to cease the blockade was welcome.
“But the fact is – it should not have been allowed to get this far in the first place”.
“Their behaviour was illegal”.
Harnisch says the fact that the union was able to defy the Supreme Court for so long serves as evidence that the Fair Work Act is deficient and that Fair Work Building and Construction, the new building regulator for industrial relations, does not have sufficient power to maintain order within the industry.
He dismisses assertions from FWBC that the new regulator did everything its predecessor, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), would have done.
“Basically there is no proof that they did the same thing” Harnisch told DesignBuild Source.
“The reality is that it didn’t happen”.
In a statement released on Friday, the CFMEU says the union now looks forward to ‘productive and good-faith’ talks with Grocon.
But there are already signs of trouble, with the union claiming media statements by Daniel Grollo that the blockade was ended ‘unconditionally’ were not true, and that a signed agreement between the company and the union lists a number of conditions.
Harnisch says that whilst Grocon, a well-resourced company, was able to stand up to the union, the same would not have been the case with smaller firms.
“The Government must act to curb illegal behaviour. The building unions over the last three weeks have shown that they are incapable of behaving responsibly and lawfully” Harnisch says.
“The CFMEU has asked to be treated the same as others, but the last three weeks have shown why they were singled out and why special powers were necessary to stamp out violence, intimidation and thuggery in the industry.
“These powers must be returned”.