Abolish ‘oppressive’ construction, building laws: CFMEU

Using International Human Rights Day as its platform yesterday, the CFMEU said laws introduced by the former Howard government – primarily, industry watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) ¬– allowed unequal treatment of construction workers.“As citizens around the world acknowledge International Human Rights Day, over 900,000 Australian construction workers are being punished daily by what are regarded as the most oppressive set of workplace laws to be found anywhere in the world,” CFMEU construction national secretary Dave Noonan said.“Human rights are under attack in Australia by laws brought in by the Howard government. “Over 100 construction workers have been interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with no recourse to their right to silence.”According to Noonan, the ABCC’s powers transcend all Australian legislation – the International Labour Organisation has criticised the ABCC’s powers several times for undermining workers’ rights to participate in collective action and have union representation.“The Rudd government should treat all workers with the same respect and under the same law and immediately abolish the ABCC and its laws. Only by wiping the slate clean will a consultation on Australia’s human rights have real meaning,” Noonan said.The CFMEU’s call comes only weeks after the Australian Council of Trade Unions pressured the federal government to dismantle the ABCC, after the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions dropped charges against union official Noel Washington.ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said Washington had been charged because he refused to attend an interview with the watchdog.Dropping the charges against Washington showed the process had been a waste of taxpayer money, he said.According to Lawrence, the ABCC is a discriminatory organisation, with no place under the Rudd government’s revised workplace legislation, Fair Work Australia, which was introduced into federal parliament in late November.The federal government said, in mid June this year, it would retain the ABCC until 2010, when its powers will be transferred to a division of the new Fair Work Australia.

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