Historic Win Against ABCC

MUA congratulates CFMEU after Ark Tribe verdict.

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin sent the following letter of congratulations to Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division, after an Adelaide magistrate on November 24 found rigger Ark Tribe not guilty of failing to attend a compulsory interview with the Australian Building and Construction Commission.  Unions had threatened a national strike across the construction industry if Mr Tribe was jailed.

Dear Comrade, Please pass on congratulations from the MUA, including all our officers, members and staff to Ark Tribe, all your union members, officers and staff along with your lawyers, on this historic strike against the anti-union and judicial and regulatory dead end of the ABCC.

Through the courage and conviction of Ark Tribe and his family, and the determination of the CFMEU and the broader trade union movement in this country and internationally, tremendous scrutiny and subsequent legitimate pressure for just accountability of the ABCC has been brought to a proper conclusion.

Yesterday's acquittal is further clear testament that the Australian Building and Construction Commission is nothing but the ideological tool developed by the ferociously anti worker Howard Government as a key instrument to break and diminish legitimate worker and trade union rights in this country. 

The ABCC is an ugly stain on Australia's long industrial and judicial commitment to fairness and balance between workers and their employers.  It is a national embarrassment and brings Australia's industrial laws into disrepute internationally when any worker is required to be subjected to two years of spurious process to avoid six months jail because he raised concerns about the safety of a project he was working on.

As President of the International Transport Workers' Federation I can assure you that international workers were appalled by the powers and the exercise of those powers by the ABCC and were mobilising for a wide-reaching campaign in the event justice was not served.  I can assure you this commitment will remain until we see off this industrially distorted Commission.

The MUA joins with Ark and your union in celebrating this great day for workers' rights.  We are proud to have stood beside you from day one in setting out to address this gross distortion of civil and human rights.  Many of our members have been penalised by their employers for so-called illegal industrial action in support of what clearly was a benchmark defensive action to ensure safety and equal rights to advocate a safe working environment.

The atrocious safety record in the building industry through deregulated and shabby arrangements seeking to take economic short cuts on the back of casual and precarious employment practices has been condoned by the ABCC through its prosecution of Ark Tribe and others.  The stevedoring industry has seen a massive increase in our members' mortality rates through similar disregard for proper OH&S standards.  Ark's and the CFMEU's legal success is an important blow against the trend of putting workers last in the priorities of high-risk occupations in particular.

The ABCC has flushed taxpayers' money down the brasco in this negligent pursuit of an innocent man and needs to be held to full account by the Gillard Government.  The ABCC has been found to have acted unlawfully in the way the charge was laid and needs a bit of prosecution themselves.

Dave, please relay to Ark Tribe and all your members that the MUA will go the distance with all construction unions (of which they decide we are when it suits their purposes) to ensure that building and construction workers have the full legal and structural support and protection that every other worker has in this country.

We are convinced that if these rights are not reinstated then inevitably the same bullying and harassment through institutionalised prejudice and self-serving intent in favor of elite groups will be the lot of all Australian working women and men.

Let's be free of the ABCC, and get back to doing the job through respecting the needs and rights of individuals in this country and not taking them away.

Sincerely and in unity