The nation’s construction union is calling on the New South Wales government to launch an inquiry into the state’s building industry, arguing that tendering and payment practices are pressuring some builders to work at unrealistic prices.
A report on the NineMSN.com.au says the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) plans to collect 10,000 signatures for a petition calling on state Premier Barry O’Farrell to launch an inquiry. The union is concerned that sub-contractors who employ building workers are forced to cut costs to win work, resulting in an increasing number failing to meet obligations to workers.
“If Barry O’Farrell cannot see the need for strong government action, then the union will drag him screaming to a government inquiry,” CFMEU NSW secretary Brian Parker says.
The calls follow the recent collapse of Kell & Rigby, which went into receivership in February and owed more than $35 million to some 500 businesses. The NineMSN report says workers affected by the collapse will be among the first to sign the union petition.
The CFMEU is hoping to reach 10,000 signatures because O’Farrell has promised to debate in Parliament any petitions which gain this many signatures or more.
The calls also come amid fears over as many as 150,000 subcontractors going unpaid for work on New South Wales government projects as a result of the financial difficulties of Reed Construction, which worked on a number of public sector projects within the state.