UNION OF SLEAZE: The health of sick kids jeopardised by CFMEU greed

billoliver It’s rare for us to criticise industrial action because the right to withdraw labour is a perfectly legitimate and lawful tool for working people to use to bargain. Not all – perhaps not many – conservatives would agree with that.

We like reminding them that before Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States who confronted and defeated the Christian and unionist persecuting Soviet bloc, he was the President of the Screen Actors Guild, a union for many in the film industry. He fought for and won minimum wages for actors that they’d never had before and when communists tried to interfere he showed them the door (and called the FBI to shop them too as a patriot would).

But this past week has seen a despicable “blockade” of the massive redevelopment of the Royal Children’s Hospital by what is unquestionably the most morally compromised industrial organisation in the land, the Construction division of the CFMEU.

The courts ordered them to stop their sabotage of the construction of a facility for sick kids.

While they ran their blockade of greed to stop construction of the hospital, there were kids battling all forms of sickness, fighting cancer, recovering from surgery and healing from burns caused by our recent horrific bushfires.

It wasn’t the first time courts had ordered them back to work. They had done so before. The first order was ignored by the contemptuous and contemptible militants who hide their greed and avarice under a slimy cloak of workers of the world rhetoric.

They use the Eureka flag yet wipe their wealthy bums on its values.

On sites like the Royal Childrens, for companies like Lend Lease, it is not unusual for unskilled labourers to be paid more than $100,000 per annum. With 26 Rostered Days Off a year, construction workers last year demanded and got a 15% pay rise, well above CPI.

Being paid well is a great thing of course as long as you’re delivering value in proportion to what you’re being paid.

To argue these blokes are hard done by is outrageous. Sure it’s tough work and the prospect of unemployment looms large on the horizon for the whole industry. But those on that job have every reason to whistle while they work.

And on a site like Royal Childrens Hospital, make no mistake about who’s paying for them to be so well looked after, it’s the Victorian people.

There has been a long history of industrial trouble at the Children’s Hospital site, with the ABC reporting in 2006:

Stateline has been told one allegedly involves a senior union official who was forcibly removed from Bovis LendLease’s Royal Children Hospital’s site on August 15th. In another incident, put to the Industrial Relations Commission last month, a Bovis LendLease manager received a death threat.

We were curious about what could have prompted the union pulling on a “blockade” of such an important project, particularly at a time when they are supposed to be agitating for more public sector spending on projects that could employ the members of the union in their very cyclical construction industry. Some say they are even intent on pursuing an “industrial alliance” with traditionally more responsible moderate unions in the form of the NUW and SDA in order to use preselection threats to squeeze more loot out of government for projects they want. Somehow we doubt PM Rudd and Premier Brumby are as easily shaken down as the builders/developers the CFMEU is used to pick-pocketing.

The left-wing press described the issue:

It comes after lead contractor Bovis Lend Lease and the unions were involved last year in a dispute over the introduction of swipe identity cards at a number of its building sites, including the Royal Children’s.

That’s a very polite description of what we understand transpired.

With the blessing and sanction of the union, it is alleged that workers were pretending to be present at the site while spending time at a nearby pub for hours and hours, day after day. It’s a huge site and management clearly were having issues keeping track of all the workers.

With the blessing and sanction of the union, it is alleged that workers were pretending to be present at the site while spending time at a nearby pub for hours and hours, day after day. It’s a huge site and management clearly were having issues keeping track of all the workers.

In order to defeat this, they decided to introduce an identity swipe card system for clocking on and off so they could keep track of who came in and when and who left and when they departed. It’s not the normal situation at many building sites but is certainly common enough at very many workplaces. Indeed, the ministerial office for Roads and Ports Minister Tim Pallas strictly administered by hyper-organised chief of staff Cressida Wall is believed to have a similar system in place for the ministerial staff there. Legend has it she also commissioned and required the wearing of “Team RoPo” T-shirts. Surely, that’s an urban myth.

That’s what provoked the blockade. Management’s insistence that people paid to work actually be at work and be working. It doesn’t seem at all unreasonable.

When you visit the Royal Childrens Hospital development as we did yesterday, you’re struck by the vastness of the project, it must be more than doubling the size of that important facility where so many Victorian kids are rushed in an emergency, are taken to be healed and cared for in occasionally terrifying circumstances for both parents and patients.

In the minds of most Victorians, it’s practically hallowed ground. The miracles they perform come from man-made skill and dedication.

And yet for the venal scum waving Eureka flags of rebellion while caring for little other than loot in that part of the union, building at the joint is just another excuse to pull on obscene rorts that ultimately all Victorians end up paying for.

Getting paid for work you don’t do is theft. A union actively involved in arranging this on a grand scale is little more than an organised crime outfit. It’s like the ugliest aspects of mob-controlled unions in New York.

A tough union that goes in hard for its members is a delight to behold in our view. Most unions do such a good job that we’re surprised more people don’t join them. They are very good value. And underlying everything most of them do is a real sense of decency and justice and passion to do the right thing for society and for their members.

But the construction division of the CFMEU for too long enjoyed absolute power on construction sites. And you don’t have to be Lord Acton to know what that does. Yes, it corrupts absolutely.

The CFMEU construction bloke in NSW who owned fourteen North Shore properties was clearly a crook. But it’s the crooked culture in the whole organisation that worries us.

Shaking down a Maserati driving property developer for bribes might be illegal but what they’ve done at RCH isn’t just illegal, it’s immoral too.

For how else could one characterise a union tolerating or condoning or encouraging its members to bludge off – to steal from – a development designed to help cure sick kids. And then when they’re busted for it, they arrange a blockade that has the effect of delaying construction and costing millions.

What kind of morality drives people who engage in blockading the construction of a hospital for kids so a few shonks can sip beer all day while the economy and construction industry is in freefall and the state is literally in flames.

The words ‘heartless scum’ don’t do them justice.

Tomorrow we’ll keep exploring the dirty secrets of the nation’s most despicable trade union.



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24 responses to “UNION OF SLEAZE: The health of sick kids jeopardised by CFMEU greed

  1. Anon Annonski

    All this and the unions still bleat about abolishing the ABCC. Moderate union leaders know the CFMEU is a problem but they won’t do anything about it which is why we need more ABCC investigations and more CFMEU officials dragged into the ABCC star chamber!!!

  2. Phil McCrackin

    Yikes….looks v bad

  3. Jack

    Hope the bosses pay you for your toadying manifestos, try working on a building site before criticising those who do you overeducated wankers.

  4. disgusted

    I worked in construction in a family business for years. I wouldn’t go back to it though.

    The CFMEU and the ETU are the single biggest reason why projects don’t get done in Melbourne.

    Glad someone is calling bullshit on their lies.

  5. Anon Annonski

    Hey Jack
    1. if you don’t like working in construction don’t do it!
    2. construction workers get paid very well thanks very much for the work they do. Why are they always, always, always wanting more for doing nothing more?
    3. Other unions manage to obey the law in their industrial action, whats so special about the CFMEU?
    4.The CFMEU claims other unions are sell-outs everyone knows the CFMEU take easy wins industrial harmony payments every other day without any trickle down the workers.
    5.Why pick a hospital, and the children’s hospital to make your points? Isn’t basically the same as terrorists picking innocent and easy targets like touring cricket teams?

    The CFMEU was the snake-hole that the last disgraced members of the BLF ran down when patriots from other unions finally had enough intervened. Its tragic that they seem to have sprung to life.

  6. Pingback: Mangled Thoughts » Union extortion scandal rocks ALP

  7. maria

    Well done Andy. Lets hope the ABCC try and keep track of them.

  8. George Jetson

    There is a glaring question that remains unanswered. How do swipe cards prevent workers from wandering off the job, and assist employers to detect such practices?

    Can one of you informed posters provide an empirical answer to my question?

    Sounds like employer rhetoric to me. Actually such swipe cards and fingerprint technology a proliferating in many workplaces, where there are no construction workers. One particular company is making a killing flogging this quaint Orwellian product, which does not actually function efficiently.

    Can I remind people that there was statistically a death on a building site every week before
    the BLF essentially invented the concept of OH&S.

    As for the ABCC, fascist by definition. A national disgrace and counter democratic.

    I’d just like to add: Anonski and Maria, you really are poncy conservative little wankers.

  9. Seamus O'Hooligan

    Oh for shame! Over here in the west the CFMEU are mainly led by patriots who resist the communist stain but no one can defend the antics of these Eastern State idiots.

  10. Dean Mile

    Hey Disgusted.Leave the ETU out of this. I’ve made sure the ETU hasn’t had a strike on a construstruction site for years. it distracts me from my transexual prostitutes

  11. Anon Annonski

    More like his dog muttley I would have thought!
    The first sign of patriotic victory is when the oppoenent resorts to mindless and not particularly witty abuse. Ponsy conservative little wankers – Hardly a touche moment!!
    The fact that anyone can in good conscience defend the conduct of the BLF a well documented bunch of violent corrupt thugs is astounding but not surprising since they like they like the CMFEU aren’t really a union anymore just a gang with that goes with toxic gang culture.
    Who said anything about fingerprinting in the workplace – I’d tell the boss to get stuffed! But what’s wrong with doing the days work your paid for without always bloody whinging and trying to get more at the cost of the Royal Children’s Hospital – talk about callous!
    If the ABCC is so fascist how come their former chief inquisitor Nigel Hagdkiss is now DPP in the bastion of union dominated industrial relations (and what a disaster that has turned out to be) NSW??
    Some of the ABCC’s powers are not very pleasant and undesirable. But the ABCC doesn’t investigate other unions like the NUW, the ASU, NTEU, the TWU!!! It investigates the most violent and corrupt bunch of genuinely nasty people in the history of workplace relations – the BLF remnants in the CFMEU!!!

  12. Dave

    George do you even know any rank and file members of the Construction Division of the CFMEU? I bet you don’t. I have a few mates who are, some have been members for over ten years and according to them this particular part of the union is and has always been rotten to the core.

    They have two kinds of stories the amusing kind like the times there have been site walk offs because the pie warmer or the urn or the microwave in the smoko shed wasn’t working and the scary kind involving threats and intimidation. These so called trade unionists in this part of the CMFEU are halfwits and are nothing more than thugs and bullies. Why haven’t my friends said anything about this? The answer is simple they are terrified of some of these people.

  13. Sunshine

    I am not sure who wrote this article but it certainly sounds like a very bitter, small minded person who probably votes Liberal and has never meet a real worker in his life.

    I guess when the AMA take any form of industrial action it is of course a different matter as people like to demonise construction workers but not doctors!! We couldn’t have that now could we.

  14. Dave

    Hey sunshine did you read the post before yours – these thugs dont represent workers they represent themselves!

  15. Sunshine

    Hi Dave, I have read all the posts and the article quite a number of times and spent some time thinking very clearly about what needed to be said.

    I know a lot of union members from all sides, nurses, doctors, teachers, ETU, AMWU etc etc and most envy the strong leadership of the CFMEU, they wish their unions were only half as good.

    But let me just say this, if the members of the CFMEU were or are so unhappy with the way they are represented then why on earth did they just re-elect the same teams in all states in a secret ballot that was run by the Australian Electoral Commission.

    Again I will say those who oppose the CFMEU are more than likey bitter little liberals or dare I say that most of the comments reek of the politics of envy.

  16. Dave

    So you don’t know any construction workers who are members of the CMFEU and im not talking about stewards or organisers they are just as wrapped up in all the crap as the executive. Im talking about rank and file members? Well mate let me tell you firstly the candidates are hand picked by the higher ups, they are the people who will do as they are told as no rocking of the status quo is allowed. People who may want to run don’t this is where the threats and intimidation come in, and it happens ranging from having your roster changed all the way up to more unspeakbale things. So by the time the members go the ballot box the only people that are going to be elected already have the stamp of approval of the people at the top, so the cycle of bullshit continues. Its kind of like the elections they had in the USSR and Nazi Germany before they abolished them. The only candidates on the ballot papers were either members of the communist party or the NSDAP

  17. Anon Annonski

    OMG does the green eyed monster ever apply to membership or leadership of the CFMEU???
    Sunshine its about the time you saw the light! This isn’t about jealousy or some bizarre inverse class snobbery where the more boofy and thuggy you are the more your envied!
    Its that the CFMEU is gang, a gang that trashes the image of unions and whose thuggish corrupt actions brings down extreme government sanctions effectively endorsed by both sides of politics on unions.
    Then to add insult to these greivous injuries it hasnt occurred to CFMEU brains trust that a children’s hospital isn’t the best venue to be playing up at from a hearts and minds persepctive!

  18. Brian Who?

    The CFMEU is a scam they target soft sites if it has a government tag then it is fair game. Contractors build in a Government Union Levey contingency, The CFMEU is a you shake my hand and I shake yours. If the contractor wants a delay in the site the Union will oblige by trumping up a safety issue.

    The CFMEU does not represent the true feelings and directions of their members. Close books that only the CCC can try and pry open.

    Its supports like Brian Boyed a well known liar, whose name is plastered on the toilet wall of trades hall, that give unions a bad name.

    Shortens deals with the devil (CFEMU) will be his down fall.

  19. annon annonski

    And now the government wants to give unions like the CFMEU the right to inspect the work records of non members??? It probobly doesnt matter in the CFMEU case because they run a closed shop based on violence and intimidation.

  20. Con structor

    Having worked in construction and seen some of the crap that is spouted by CFMEU gangsters, I have come to the conclusion that safety is not really their mission- merely an excuse to cause strife. As a staunch union member, I give my union the details I wish them to have. Giving all unions the right to inspect records worries me- I have seen the result of union abuse on construction sites.

  21. Joe McDonald

    Hey Jack (March 5), these bludgers aren’t working on the building site, that’s the whole point. They’re in the pub whilst at the same time claiming wages. When weak, spineless men hide behind a union’s strength, all unions get a bad name. Touch one – touch all also comes with responsibilities mate.

  22. cynic

    So true. Unlike the perth cfmeu leader who drives a red range rover & lives in a multi millon $$ apartment. I guess all should aspire to this type fo working class hero brothers. Kids don’t pay union fees so who cares.

  23. Kevin Reynolds

    I’ve been banging on about this for years. Greedy, fat, CFMEU leaders walking their people off for no good reason. I personally have always applied a gentle touch and approached situations like this in an open-minded fashion. I find that I garner more trust from builders and have a better relationship with Labor for doing so. Sure, there’s the odd benefit coming my way – penthouse suite, flash car, a wage about 3 times that of a slumdog site worker, but hey, somebody’s got to do it.

  24. Jamie Oliver

    Not much difference between what they do and blackmail under the Crimes Act – but because they are a Union the police don’t prosecute…thugs.

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