The Guardian • Issue #2004

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU)

Morrison plan for workers 6.5 times those for bosses committing wage theft

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2004

Under Morrison’s latest attack on construction workers an individual worker would be subject to fines more than 6.5 times higher than those faced by an employer who steals their wages.

And construction unions that try to stop bosses from robbing workers’ pay packets or putting their lives at risk would be fined more than triple the amount of the most serious possible wage-theft contravention under the Fair Work Act.

“Morrison is determined to tip the scales even further to benefit the property developer donors and Master Builders who dictate Coalition policies,” said Dave Noonan CFMMEU National Construction Secretary.

“Construction workers already face laws that do not apply to any other industry which severely limit their right to strike or take industrial action even when work is unsafe or they have not been paid.”

“Contrast the threatened $88,000 fines for individual construction workers who take unlawful industrial action with the $13,320 fine for the boss who steals their wages.”

“Even the highest fines for wage theft of $133,200 for serious and systematic contraventions by an employer are less than a third of the $444,000 fines the union would be subject to for trying to make sure workers are paid. This in an industry where wage theft and sham contracting are rife.”

“Morrison’s attack-dog regulator, the ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission], does little about wage theft and has only completed four cases against employers related to wages and entitlements since 2016. During that time the ABCC has hit 252 individual workers with fines and penalties, while they have prosecuted just 22 employers.”

“Morrison is not proposing massive fines for builders like Ganellan, whose safety breaches directly led to the death of an 18-year-old apprentice and the maiming of one of his workmates. The company ended up paying nothing in fines; their insurance picked up the tab.”

“He has sat on laws that would ensure subbies and workers get paid when companies like Probuild, ABD, Pindar, Doric and Condev go broke owing tens of millions.”

“Instead, he is threatening individual construction workers with fines that would destroy their lives, bankrupt families, and force people out of their homes. It is a sickening proposal that must be rejected.”

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