As members may be aware, the CFMEU is promoting a union rally commencing at 10.30am on Wednesday 10 April 2019 at Victorian Trades Hall. The rally is part of the ACTU’s ‘change the rules’ propaganda campaign.

The rally provides a public platform for CFMEU leadership to applaud Bill Shorten’s promise to abolish the industry regulator (Australian Building and Construction Commission - ABCC).

Master Builders advises that there is no requirement for employers to allow their employees to attend.

Employees who withdraw their labour to attend the rally without advanced written authorisation from their employer are not entitled to be paid wages:

  • for a minimum of four hours if they withdraw their labour for up to four hours; or
  • if withdrawn for greater than four hours, the amount of time that labour is withdrawn.

Accordingly, Master Builders members are advised to keep records of any employee absences.  This is especially important as the payment of employees who attend rallies without prior consent from the employer can lead to fines for employers of up to $210,000.

Role of the ABCC

The ABCC has the ability to prosecute where strike pay is provided, with fines of up to $210,000 for employers or unions involved in paying or demanding strike pay, together with fines of up $42,000 for individuals receiving or demanding strike pay. Building and construction industry workers who attend the rally without their employer’s prior consent could face penalties of up to $42,000 if they are found to have breached the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 in relation to engaging in unlawful industrial action.

Master Builders members are also reminded that contractors covered by the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Building Code 2016), have an obligation to notify the ABCC of actual, or threatened, unlawful industrial action by their employees within 24 hours of becoming aware of it. More broadly, a code covered entity must notify the ABCC of a breach, or a suspected breach of Building Code 2016, within two working days of becoming aware of it. There is no requirement to notify the ABCC where the employer has authorised the absence of their workers.

As the leading voice in the building and construction industry, Master Builders offers our members excellent industrial relations advice. If you need assistance, please contact the Master Builders IR Department on (03) 9411 4560 and/or the ABCC on 1800 003 338.