Workers at construction giant Lend Lease began a 48-hour strike on Tuesday following a breakdown in negotiations for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union National Secretary Dave Noonan says the union continues to try to pursue cooperative relations with the company, but notes that sticking points remain regarding wages and other issues.
“The CFMEU continues to negotiate with Lend Lease on the Agreement,” Noonan says. “However, our members are prepared for a long hard battle with Lend Lease to secure a decent national EBA. That ought to be understood by the industry and Lend Lease’s clients who want to see their buildings finished in a timely way.”
Noonan says the union is prepared to battle Lend Lease until a better deal is presented, stating that “[t]he company’s position on delaying increases and the other issues is not acceptable to our members.”
He says the outstanding sticking points relate to:
- Dates surrounding operation of increases
- Implementation of the Employee Share Acquisition Plan
- Clauses relating to security of employment
- Site allowances in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
- Use of electronic access codes
- Rates of pay for crane crew
- The inclusion or otherwise of Western Australia in the agreement.
Noonan says the union wants to ensure that the job security of its members is not undermined by sham contracting, in which individuals who are in effect workers are hired as contractors so the employer can avoid payments regarding superannuation and other employee benefits, as well as a clause which covers apprentices.
He says Lend Lease, as one of Australia’s largest builders, should be investing in training apprentices so as to invest in the future of the industry.
In total, the strike action is expected to impact around 34 sites around the country, with more than 160 workers taking part.
Noonan says further action will be likely if an agreement is not reached soon. He says the action has been legally approved and is being carried out under the Fair Work Act.
Relations between Lend Lease and the union have soured over recent months, with the union accusing the company of using sham contractors on its sites.
Another point of contention has been workplace safety, with work on Lend Lease’s Barangaroo site having had to be stopped on several occasions due to the discovery of asbestos during union site inspections.