• CFMEU scraps weekend work in landmark deal over building code
CFMEU scraps weekend work in landmark deal over building code
05 Jan, 2018, 1 Comment

Summary: The Queensland construction union has struck a landmark agreement to scrap weekend work and increase pay and overtime rates as part of deal to comply with the Turnbull government's new building code.....

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's most militant branch was the last hold-out over the code and its resistance meant major builders were blocked from federally-funded work due to agreements with banned conditions.

However, last month the union reached an in-principle deal with Multiplex, Hutchinson, Watpac, Probuild and Icon, to remove prohibited restrictions on managerial prerogative, including limits on casuals, broad consultation powers and controls over rostered days offs.

In return, employers have promised two extra wage increases of 5 per cent a year from 2019 and penalty rates of 250 per cent for casuals and working on an RDO.

Central to the agreement is employers' removal of Saturday work from normal hours for the first time, which cuts the state's traditional six-day, 58-hour week to an industry-leading five-day, 50-hour week.

Workers' ordinary time will be limited to 10-hour days from Monday to Friday while their overtime penalties will increase from time and a half to double time.

Historic shift from weekend work

The deal marks a historic shift away from Saturday work in the industry and has been embraced by employers as a way to attract a younger generation who want to spend more time with their families.

One employer who helped negotiate the deal told The Australian Financial Review subcontractors that had adopted similar hours reported improvements in attendance, productivity, flexibility and relationships as well as less fatigue.

"We're confident we've struck the right balance. However, ultimately it's up to each company to work with their employees and the union to get the best of this deal."

The new hours, which include flexibilities, do not apply to existing projects and will be phased in over the next 18 months.

CFMEU national secretary Dave Noonan said Queensland was now "leading the way" on a five-day week.

"It's not a thing in other eastern seaboard states," he said. "I would be surprised if it doesn't spread."

He said the move was driven by workers who wanted to use their weekends for leisure time or to see their children.

"It's pretty archaic when you think of it - people working massive amounts of overtime in hard, physical jobs.

"You had blokes in their fifties who regretted not spending time with their kids for Saturday sport. The new generation, their sons and daughters, looked at that and said they didn't want it."

CFMEU banking on ALP to abolish code

The government's building code came into full effect in September last year with the aim to use the weight of commonwealth infrastructure funding to dilute the CFMEU's influence in enterprise agreements and on site.

In the Queensland deal, the code saw the scrapping of a controversial and unique condition that allowed the CFMEU to hold two-hour meetings on site daily and which was used as a form of industrial action on major projects.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has okayed a draft of the deal and the Fair Work Commission is expected to approve it in the coming months.

Despite committing to pay rises until 2021, the agreement expires at the start of 2019 in time for a new election and Labor's potential scrapping of the code.

"We've got a very clear policy that Labor should abolish the ABCC and the building code," Mr Noonan said.

"They've said so and we intend to hold them to it. If elected, they should have a mandate to do it."


  • MyPassion

    06 Jan, 2018

    ABCC must go understand there is thugs, stand over merchants but way laws stand, little at the end is just chicken pellets in this case nothing to stand on
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