Australia’s Electrical Contracting sector has once again urged the Senate to pass legislation to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill 2013 containing legislation to re-establish the ABCC was one of the triggers for July’s double dissolution election.
“The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) has always been a strong, long term advocate for Building and Construction sector reform and we have strenuously argued that this legislation, along with the passage of the Registered Organisations Act, will deliver benefits for Australia’s electrical contractors,” said NECA chief executive Suresh Manickam.
“Since the abolition of the ABCC in 2012, we have seen industrial disputes rise by 40%. These disputes have a negative impact on electrical contracting firms which then lose significant revenue through industrial stoppages. Ultimately, this means that the Australian taxpayer pays more for the delivery of critical public infrastructure.
“With 113 officials from one union currently before the courts, it is clear that the fines handed out are not curbing unlawful behaviour. Every Australian ultimately pays a higher price for this culture of lawlessness through the construction of more expensive roads, hospitals and schools.”
Suresh says there are countless examples in the public domain that supports the return of the ABCC.
“One only has to look at the testimony from the Trade Union Royal Commission, or the examples arising from the Commonwealth Games construction site, court cases and elsewhere highlighting a complete disregard for the rule of law, workplace safety breaches and a culture of bullying, violence and intimidation on building sites across the country,” he says.
“When previously in operation up until 2012, the ABCC had a strong track record of enforcing the law and dealt swiftly to investigate and penalise those who broke the law whilst industrial disputes significantly decreased and productivity increased. NECA expects to see a return to an efficient and productive construction sector where costs and disputes are reduced, the rule of law is upheld and the culture of bullying and intimidation is replaced with one of co-operation and cohesion.
“NECA calls upon Senators to make a decision in favour of Australia’s SME electrical contracting businesses – many of whom are counting on the return of the industry watchdog to ensure certainty and stability for their long-term futures.”