What a complete disgrace this rort is. Building employers are forced to pay ‘redundancy’ payments on behalf of all workers (in excess of $100 per worker per week) which are then paid into a fund; in the case of Queensland, the fund is called BERT – the Building Employees Redundancy Trust. But it turns out that you have to be a member of the CFMEU to receive any benefits (cash handouts, dental and medical coverage, child care, etc. ) from the trust.
Even though, there are management representatives on the board, the management and the union officials get their way on all important decisions.
But when it came to handing money over to striking workers (at the new Brisbane Children’s Hospital site), BERT may have gone too far. It is an offence under the Fair Work Act for strike pay to be paid, at least by employers. On the face of it, it would seem that BERT also overstepped its mandate, something of which at least one of the employer reps on the board was aware (he was overruled).
But don’t you just love the idea that workers who are simply exercising freedom of association by not joining the union (the CFMEU) are freeloading? What this guy means is that the thuggish CFMEU can only operate as a destructive monopoly if everyone signs up and does as they are told – and this applies to employers as well.
If prosecutions do not follow from the Royal Commission, it will tell us a lot about the police and the prosecuting authorities. We already know that the ACCC is just a gutless outfit with its refusal to act in the Boral case. And APRA fits into this category, with its complete inaction about the leaking by Cbus of confidential contact information about some of the superannuation members to the CFMEU.
Here is the newspaper piece:
WORKERS who don’t belong to unions are “freeloaders” and do not deserve the same hard-fought benefits from industry funds as unionists, a senior CFMEU official says.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national vice-president Michael Ravbar has rejected claims that multi-million-dollar redundancy and welfare funds were unfair because funeral, childcare, dental and travel-insurance payments went only to paid-up trade union members.
“I’m not going to give any freeloader who is a non-unionist those benefits,” Mr Ravbar told the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption yesterday.
The royal commission is investigating allegations of criminal extortion, threats and bans of major construction companies by the CFMEU’s powerful Queensland branch, led by Mr Ravbar.
It is also probing the workings of the Building Employees Redundancy Trust, of which Mr Ravbar is a union-nominated director.
Employers pay their employees’ redundancy entitlements — up to $90 a week — into the fund, which was set up in the late 1980s.
All workers can make a claim if they are made redundant, but only union members can access the extra perks. CFMEU Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Mr Ravbar said the system was fair because unions had fought hard for those benefits decades ago.
After he had spent nearly two days in the commission’s witness box, the CFMEU said Mr Ravbar had comprehensively rejected every allegation of wrongdoing, skulduggery and criminality that had been made against him and the union by several disgruntled construction bosses.
Albert Smith, from Universal Cranes, told the Brisbane hearing that Mr Ravbar and the union had threatened and tried to extort him after he refused to sign a union deal that required he pay into the trust.
Mr Smith alleged that the union then threatened his clients, and Universal Cranes was banned from major projects’ building sites across the state, until he had caved in.
Counsel assisting the commission, Jeremy Stoljar SC, said if Mr Smith’s allegations were accepted, Mr Ravbar and other senior officials could face criminal extortion charges, which carry a maximum 14 years in jail if proven.
Mr Ravbar denied the claims and launched a ferocious attack on Mr Smith’s character and business tactics, describing him as a lying rogue who tried to buy industrial peace from the union with “blood money”.
“I know it’s easy to blame the union for certain things, but the achilles heel for Albert was that he never complied with (industry standards),” Mr Ravbar said. “Albert’s not very good at telling the truth — it is not a forte of his.”
Outside court, CFMEU construction and general national secretary Dave Noonan said that the extortion claims had a “snowflake’s chance in hell … of surviving any proper legal process”.
“There is nothing left, not a shred of evidence of any of the allegations that counsel assisting led with,” Mr Noonan said.