What are the ACCC and police doing?

Grace Collier has an important piece in the Australian today where she blows the whistle on some of the practices in the Australian construction industry.  She focuses particularly the egregious (surely illegal?) behaviour of head contractors forcing subcontractors into damaging (often bankrupting) arrangements with their workers because the CFMEU has insisted this happen (so-called ‘jump up’ clauses).

She also raises the issues of why the ACCC does not intervene or the police act to remove picketers from blocking access to businesses.

These are legitimate questions and I am not sure I know all the answers.  But:

  • There must be something in the Fair Work Act that prevents third parties from imposing additional conditions on an employer when there is a current enterprise agreement.  But I guess there needs to be complaint lodged by which time the subcontractor is out of business and, any complaint would probably mean the end of any return to the construction business for that subcontractor.
  • Why has the ACCC not acted in relation to the CFMEU’s behaviour in respect of Boral? The CFMEU have a dispute with Grocon; Boral supply Grocon; and the CFMEU is directing persons to block the delivery of wet concrete by Boral to Grocon sites.  Surely this is classic secondary boycott and yet the ACCC has done absolutely nothing.
  • As to the police, certainly in the case of Victoria, the influence of Christine Nixon lives on.  She cunningly altered the guidelines in respect of handling industrial pickets. According to the Nixon rules, as long as the picket is peaceful, the police will not intervene even if all access to a business is being prevented.  This was the case with Baiada, the chicken processing factory, and lead to a loss in the millions for the company.  And there are plenty of other examples.

You will all be pleased to know that the ACCC’s highest priority at the moment is on-line restaurant reviews.  In the meantime, the rights of honest business people are being crushed, businesses are destroyed, lawlessness is encouraged and construction costs are significantly inflated.  Good one, Rod.

 

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16 Responses to What are the ACCC and police doing?

  1. Tom

    Collier says quite early in her (brilliant, as usual) piece: “We’ve had enough inquiries; government knows what the problems are. We just need someone as hard as nails to fix them.”

    Anyone coming into view? No?

    Abbott’s crowd still hasn’t come to terms with how and why they were tactically thrashed by the left on Work Choices, which was 99% scare campaign and 1% substance. The public instinctively (and through brutal experience) knows what the problem is, as fleshed out by Collier, but we have a government of muddle-headed, inarticulate plodders who can’t provide the leadership required to get the shit out of the system.

    A government with good leadership is feared by its enemies. Abbott fears his.

  2. Gab

    We just need someone as hard as nails to fix them.”

    Put Scott Morrison on the job as he seems to be the only one with any cajones to get things done.

  3. Notafan

    Sophie would have done it, maybe Mr Abbott could appoint her to the ACCC.

  4. Badjack

    Give Grace Collier the of role Ms Fixit. Screw using weak arsed Public Servants

  5. iamok

    The fact that for years ACCC has concluded that the petrol industry is effectively above board shows what a toothless tugger it is. Agree, get on with it folks. Perhaps it too is infected with sympathetic luvvies and mates as is FWA.

  6. Johno

    One of Grace Collier’s strengths has been to highlight the failure of employers to stand up to unions and the failure of government agencies to do their job.

    Abbott, possibly foolishly, but quite justifiably, chose to go to the last election promising not to change the IR legislative framework. Collier has been very effective in pointing to stuff that can be done within the existing framework. Hockey (I think) is responsible for the largely useless ACCC. Maybe he should be having a quite chat to them about what he sees as it’s priorities.

  7. Johno

    The fact that for years ACCC has concluded that the petrol industry is effectively above board shows what a toothless tugger it is.

    It could also be that the petrol industry is above board and all the squawking and carry on about price rigging is based on BS.

  8. H B Bear

    The public instinctively (and through brutal experience) knows what the problem is…

    I doubt that is the case. If people understood that union influence added 10%+ to the cost of construction in Victoria over other States and this was added directly to the cost of their apartments or additional taxes they might think about it.

    Instead they are about to vote back in the ALP who gave them the multi-billion dollar white elephant Wonthagi Desal plant and is directly funded and owned by the CFMEU.

  9. Squirrel

    In lay (if not legal) terms “jump up” clauses sound intrinsically anti-competitive and, in effect, like pattern bargaining, but without the need to go through bargaining processes.

    Given that governments seem to be fond of strict liability clauses (when it suits), perhaps blockades of the sort described in the Collier article could be so defined – making it the responsibility of the relevant union to prove that it was not responsible, in any way, for the blockade. That would allow legal action (which could include substantial fines) to be taken more quickly, without the need for police intervention and lengthy investigations.

    A Labor Party (as opposed to a Union Party), which had the public interest at heart, would support balanced measures to address this – i.e. deal with the questionable practices, but without tipping the balance to the point that truly necessary safety standards etc. are compromised.

  10. Formerly A Political

    Tom,

    “A government with good leadership is feared by its enemies.” Is this perhaps why the ALP/Greens/ABC fear Tony Abbott so much?

  11. Dave Wane

    I tend to agree with Grace Collier, that without a total change of culture from company bosses and a serious commitment from government to enforce existing laws – by way of the various state and territory police forces, that the sleazy and very corrupt union boss/company boss deals will continue – albeit at a slightly reduced rate. Of course, if the entire community was not saddled with a plethora of anti-discrimination laws and similar unnecessary nonsense, the solution to dealing with bribery and corruption between union bosses and company bosses would be much simpler. Put simply: A building company would be provided with complete private-property rights to a building site, allowing the company to have total control over who is permitted on the site. This would enable the builder to declare a site “non-union” – thereby preventing any unionist or union representative on the site. Any trespassing by those deemed by the builder to be “undesirable” would be dealt with by the police; as would allegations of corruption, blackmail, threats of violence and the like. Private property should be 100% Private Property, and those in charge of the Private Property should have complete and total property rights.

  12. johanna

    Excellent article by Grace Collier. I note that her name indicates that she comes from fossil fuel stock. :)

    Of course it is easier to herd employers than employees – for a start, there are a lot less of them. US unions worked that out a long time ago. That’s why the big car companies in Detroit eventually went broke. But the people who made the deals were long gone, complete with pensions and bribes.

  13. What planet am I on?

    A building company would be provided with complete private-property rights to a building site, allowing the company to have total control over who is permitted on the site.

    A building Contractor has these rights now. It is just in the big builders interest to go along with the unions because they do not then have to deal with their staff directly.

  14. blogstrop

    Companies can only stand up to unions if the legal backing is there. Otherwise they get trashed. With Fair Work and an ACCC looking elsewhere, what are they going to do?

  15. cohenite

    Unions are like the mozzies; they bite back so the left, cowards to an emasculated male and emasculating bitch won’t touch the bastards.

  16. JohnA

    Gab #1181942, posted on February 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    We just need someone as hard as nails to fix them.”

    Put Scott Morrison on the job as he seems to be the only one with any cajones to get things done.

    And give him Cory Bernardi as his Parly Sec/Assistant.

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