The Australian Council of Trade Unions is calling on Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to ensure the Turnbull Government’s proposed Building Code cannot operate retrospectively if introduced.
The Government wants to introduce the code as part of the bizarre revival of the defunct Australian Building and Construction Commission, but there is widespread confusion as to when the code should be applied to enterprise bargaining agreements.
Members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) have currently stopped work at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital because of a lack of direction around the code.
Building contractors are not able to sign off on agreements that are not compliant with the code in tenders for Government work, the ETU today said.
The wording of the code says it will assess enterprise agreements for compliance with the code back to 24 April 2014, but Senator Cash has told the media that the code will only be used ‘prospectively’.
Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:
‘‘The ACTU believes the code is being introduced as a stunt and will have no benefit to the building and construction industry.’
‘At the very least, Senator Cash must make a firm commitment that the Building Code will not be used retrospectively if it is introduced.’
‘The confusion around the code is already causing major issues for building projects, with the construction of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital at a standstill because of a lack of clarity around the code.’
‘Senator Cash has accused the ETU of being misleading, but unless she is able to commit to the code only being used ‘prospectively’ in current enterprise bargaining agreements, and not retrospectively, workers will be disadvantaged and unions will not be able to negotiate fair and reasonable wage deals.’