The Guardian • Issue #2018


ABCC stripped to bare minimum

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2018

The moves to abolish the anti-worker Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) are underway.

Last month, the Albanese government reduced the powers of the ABCC “to the bare legal minimum,” Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke told ABC’s Insiders, qualifying the move as a “down payment” on Labor’s commitment to abolishing to oversight body:

“Some of the things that the ABCC’s been doing, which I just think have been ridiculous rules, are gone all together.

“We will no longer be spending taxpayers’ money determining what sticker someone’s allowed to put on their helmet, whether or not a safety sign has to be pulled down because it’s got a union logo in the bottom corner, or what flag might be flying at a building site.

“Those sorts of issues should never have been something for an official government regulator to be wasting taxpayers’ money.”

The move was welcomed by unions, with ACTU Secretary Sally McManus stating:

“the removal of the anti-worker aspects of the building code as the first and important steps to the Albanese government implementing their election commitment to abolish the ABCC. […] The code was one of the ideological projects of the previous government who spent nearly a decade attacking unions and suppressing wages.”

However, the usual suspects have come in against these changes. Shadow workplace relations minister Michaelia Cash has run off shrieking: “We can now expect jobs will be lost, one of the nation’s most militant unions the CFMMEU will run riot, building costs will sky-rocket and large and small businesses will fold.”

CEO Innes Willox backed Cash’s claim stating that “backward step for the fight against bullying and intimidation and will add costs and delays to vital community infrastructure such as roads, hospitals and schools.”

These claims are simply not true. As Burke has outlined above, if anyone is running riot, it was the ABCC for the innumerable, wasteful decisions around “issues” like stickers or flags that had nothing to do with workers’ pay or conditions.

Furthermore, unions don’t cost workers jobs – businesses do. Costs “sky-rocket” because companies are in constant pursuit of ever-increasing profits. To increase these profits, they will use several mechanisms. They will cut wages and they will casualise their workforce not to pass on the “savings” in entitlements and pay to consumers, but to pay out their shareholders. These measures create an unstable workforce and cost jobs, not unions that fight for better pay and conditions. Unions help fight for workers to be able to put food on the table, and businesses fight for their bottom line.

The Communist Party of Australia looks forward to the complete abolition of the ABCC. This body’s sole purpose was to cause chaos and disrupt the union movement, and our struggle will be easier to overcome when it is gone.

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