Baillieu's construction code hurting companies

In the middle of 2012, implementation began on the Victorian Government's ideologically-driven Construction Code.

The body given responsibility over the Code, the Construction Code Compliance Unit (CCCU) then deemed that the Construction Industry EBA 2011-2015 was not compliant with the Code.

Industry parties such as the CFMEU and the Master Builders Association (MBA) were responsible for negotiating that Agreement and we have been unable to agree on an appropriate way to respond to these developments.

The MBA has accused us of having a blind hatred for the Victorian Baillieu Government and of being on an ideological crusade.

For our part, we say that all we want to do is abide by the agreement negotiated by all industry partners, including the MBA.

We are not guided by hatred but by logic:

  • The industry agreement that was negotiated complies with the Fair Work Act 2009, it is legal.
  • The industry agreement that was negotiated complies with the National Construction Code and Guidelines.
  • The alleged areas of non-compliance with the Victorian Construction Code and Guidelines are, in the words of the MBA, “minor and inconsequential”.

We see the Baillieu Government and the MBA as the ideological crusaders.  They want to introduce Government red-tape where none is required.  The Government are spending millions of dollars on this issue, while simultaneously closing beds in hospitals throughout the State.

They want to impede construction contractors from working over “minor and inconsequential” issues.  What this means in practice is that two contractors can have identical agreements, one certified in March of 2012, one in September 2012.

The one certified later will be deemed non-compliant by the Baillieu Government and locked out of Government contracts, again, over “minor and inconsequential” issues.

It is reasonable to ask then, if the changes really are minor and inconsequential, why don’t the CFMEU just agree to change the Agreement?

In our view, the Baillieu Government have already moved the goal posts once and there is no guarantee that they will not do so again.

If we agree to change our legal agreement that complies with the National Code, who is to say that the Government will not create new guidelines that attack agreement provisions on safety processes, worker representation, site allowances and superannuation?

We think the logical approach is to say that we should stick to the agreement that we made with the MBA, and the Baillieu Government should concentrate on creating jobs and making Victoria a great place live.

Update: The State Government gave an undertaking in the Federal Court on 24/1/13 to refrain from pressuring a builder (McCorkell) to not use a sub-contractor (Eco Recyclers) because of any perceived non-compliance with the code.

John Setka