Union slams bizarre behaviour of Fair Work Building Commission

Published: 15 Jun 2016

The CFMEU has labelled the latest instalment of the Fair Work Building Commission’s (FWBC) crusade against workers as bizarre, in the wake of a warning to workers on the Ichthys project in the Northern Territory that they could be sacked if they wore union stickers on their hard hats.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan said that there was no law preventing workers from wearing union stickers.

“To have your livelihood threatened because you choose to wear a sticker on your hardhat is another appalling example of the behavior of the FWBC. 

“The company, Laing O’Rourke, claim that they have made these threats at the instigation of the FWBC, but when challenged to produce the audit requiring the removal of stickers, they have refused. 

“The FWBC has refused to tell the workers or the union whether they have threatened to blacklist the company from Federal Government projects if the stickers are not removed, or the workers sacked.”

“The union hopes that the FWBC is not trying to engineer a dispute as part of the Coalition’s election campaign. It should be remembered that the Government’s wish to expand this agency’s powers by reconstituting it as the ABCC was the trigger for this election,” he said.

“A threat by the FWBC to withdraw Laing O’Rourke’s ability to tender for federally funded projects would be very serious, particularly for a company which is currently up for sale. Loss of potential Government work would undoubtedly impact on the company’s value to potential purchasers.”

The written warning by Laing O’Rourke project director, Ian Baker was issued to a worker after failing to comply with a direction to remove union paraphernalia from his personal protective equipment. 

The warning followed an audit of the project by the FWBC to assess compliance with the building code, where breaches were allegedly found due to the wearing of stickers.

"This is nothing other than an attack on workers’ freedom of association and freedom of speech," said Mr Noonan.