In the aftermath of wild cat strikes in January and February over motelling, construction unions in the Pilbara have begun an industrial campaign targeting one contractor at a time over unresolved issues such as travel time.
CFMEU crane divers working for the giant crane company, Mammoet, on Woodside’s Pluto site in Western Australia are set to strike for 48 hours in mid-April over travel time and issues such as unpaid meal breaks.
A ballot for industrial action was carried overwhelmingly after it finally went to the vote after months of wrangling with Fair Work Australia and the courts. Stopping the cranes will effectively stop the construction sites.
Woodside has been refusing to pay travel time claiming that workers should be able to get from the accommodation camps to the work site in less than 20 minutes. In practice it is taking at least 40 minutes.
A win against Mammoet would be a big start to pushing the claims through other Woodside contractors. Stay tuned for more industrial action.
Anger over ABCC
Workers are also angry over the on-going surveillance of the Construction Task Force and the court action initiated by Woodside against 1668 workers for their part in the strike action in February.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission was set up by the Howard government to target union activity in the construction industry. The Rudd Government has refused union demands to dismantle it, repeating Howard’s arguments that there is still a need for a “strong cop on the beat.” Gillard even used the Woodside strikes to insist the task force was still needed. The Western Australian branch of CFMEU and assistant state secretary Joe McDonald are also being sued by Woodside for damages.
Meanwhile CFMEU workers in the ACT have voted to shut down construction sites if South Australian CFMEU member Ark Tribe is jailed for refusing to attend an ABCC hearing. Ark is due to face trial on June 17 in Adelaide and could be jailed for six months if convicted.
Among the construction sites affected by any strike in Canberra would be the new $600 million Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) headquarters.
By Ian Rintoul