Australia is facing a future of industrial anarchy if lawlessness and violence is tolerated according to the peak industry body the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA).
Hard pressed electrical contractors, who are already suffering from the general downturn in the construction industry, will find that they will be increasingly denied the opportunity to carry out their business if industrial unrest continues to shut down construction sites around the country.
NECA Chief Executive Officer James Tinslay said that major industrial disputes like the ones at the Queensland Children’s Hospital site in Brisbane and the recent Grocon Myer site dispute in Melbourne have the potential to adversely affect the electrical contracting industry and the Federal Government needs to take urgent measures to improve the industrial climate.
“NECA represents over 5000 electrical contractors all over Australia and what our members are telling us is that they will get caught up in industrial disputes which have nothing to do with them, “ said Mr Tinslay.
“If these illegal activities continue and spread further they will be denied the opportunity to carry out their business as unions in dispute with the main contractors shut down construction sites at projects like the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and the Myer site in Melbourne. This leaves electrical contractors with employees on these sites often unable to find alternative work for them.
“This industrial unrest, combined with the general downturn in the construction industry which has seen the collapse of such well-known electrical contractors as the Hastie Group, is placing enormous pressure on our industry and the Government needs to act now to stop and prevent unions blithely ignoring the rule of law and clear court orders.”
Mr Tinslay added, “Major reforms are needed to the Fair Work Act to halt the slide into anarchy we are currently seeing in our industrial relations.
“The Government recently had an opportunity to do something about this with the Fair Work Act Review but missed a major opportunity by using a panel to carry out the review rather than the Productivity Commission.
“We urgently need better workplace regulation to improve productivity and competitiveness and to tackle union problems experienced by employers.
“But simply reforming the Fair Work Act is not enough. We also need the reinstatement of an organisation similar to the ABCC which had the necessary powers to tackle illegal practices.
“NECA warned earlier this year that the abolition of the ABCC would lead to lawlessness returning to construction sites and now it seems that unfortunately our predictions are coming true with the Australian building industry suffering as a consequence.”