Crane drivers in NSW at WGC Cranes and Boom Logistics have been banned from striking by the Fair Work Commission.

The Commission ruled that the union was “pattern bargaining” at WGC, because it was negotiating based on a template agreement it has drawn up for the industry. This would fix the same pay rates and conditions across different companies. The decsion came despite the fact that industrial action was not being organised across the industry, but only company-by-company.

It objected in particular to the CFMMEU’s desire for a short-term agreement to expire at the end of January next year, in order to take advantage of Labor’s promise to scrap the Building Industry Code if it wins government.

After workers at Boom Logistics began an indefinite strike, the company obtained interim Fair Work orders within hours to declare it unprotected action.

The CFMMEU is pushing for an increase on the casual loading from 25 per cent to 35 per cent, rising to 80 per cent if casuals continue working after six weeks, as well as a pay rise.

WGC and Boom are two of the biggest companies in the mobile crane industry in the state.

WGC Cranes is based in Wollongong while Boom has three yards at Port Kembla, Newcastle and Singleton.

CFMMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan told the stopwork rally in Sydney in early September, “WGC are owned by a bloke worth $130 billion, Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world. And he can’t give Australian crane drivers a decent pay rise.”

It’s another example showing why we need the right to strike—and to get rid of the Fair Work Act.

The ACTU is calling for the right to bargain across an industry. But Labor is not about to overturn the ban on pattern bargaining.

Unions will need to defy the laws banning industrial action if we’re ever going to win the right to strike.

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