Members Win, Politics Matters

In the last edition of the journal, Anne Duggan wrote about our push for the Andrews Labor government to license trades in Victoria and Luke Hilakari (VTHC Secretary) wrote about the need for Industrial Manslaughter laws. 

I am proud to tell you that a re-elected State Labor government under Daniel Andrews will introduce Industrial Manslaughter into law. This is a massive win for you and your union, and we should all be proud of the significant amount of work that has gone into this campaign and securing this commitment from Dan Andrews. This is a massive step towards getting this issue backed in by law and we are almost there – now we just need to get Labor re-elected, with your help. 

We won’t rest until we get Industrial Manslaughter into law, which is why the CFMEU will be campaigning hard on our members’ issues in the lead up to the November state election.


For decades, plumbers and sparkies have had their trades registered and licensed, while many trades such as carpentry, plastering, painting, tiling, glazing, stonemasonry and bricklaying have remained unlicensed and unregulated.

While any person can get the bare minimum safety cards, slap on a tool belt, walk onsite and call themselves a carpenter, all plumbers and electricians must have proper certificates to demonstrate their training and experience. Chippies can be responsible for the formwork that will hold up tonnes of concrete slabs and don’t have to be formally qualified, yet the person laying the cables and pipes on the exact same site does. It just doesn’t add up and ultimately lets down our members in the industry and jeopardises safety. 

To give an update on this issue, I am proud to tell members that we have successfully lobbied the Andrews Labor government to legislate for the licensing of these trades, with the Bill currently being debated in parliament. 

This is an issue the union has been fighting for a long time, to secure our industry and maintain the dignity of our work going into the future. We’ll keep fighting until we win and get this into law!


Another upcoming Bill of interest to our members, which will be introduced to parliament for debate by the State Government is the Victorian Local Jobs First Bill. This Bill is all about procurement on major government jobs, mandating local content requirements for things such as PPE, steel and materials, as well as apprentices. 

I met with the Minister, along with Jenny Kruschel (replacing Michele O’Neil for the TCFUA), to make clear some of our union’s views on these matters. 

If this state Labor government would like to get real about local procurement and delivering genuine and meaningful apprenticeships for the construction industry, then we demand a seat at that decision-making table to speak up for our members’ interests. 

With compliance issues already rife on several major government jobs, we are committed to working with the Minister and his office to make sure that this Bill doesn’t just give people warm fuzzy feelings. It needs to actually go a long way in securing compliance, safety and security for good local jobs going into the future. This Bill has great potential for our members and we want to make sure that full potential is met. 

We have made clear the issues this union has faced with some major government projects such as the West Gate tunnel project. Not even two months ago a worker was tragically killed onsite from a piling rig, and yet last week our officials found that seven more similar piling rigs had been erected and were being operated by 457 visa workers paid in Euros! 

If this government wants to get fair dinkum, then we are always ready to talk.  

This state Labor government has delivered 88 strategic projects, compared to just eight under the previous Liberal government, and our industry is experiencing a boom in infrastructure work.  

If this legislation is done right, there is real potential to do some great things and to secure a good future for our kids and the construction industry. The CFMEU will be keeping our finger on the pulse with this issue and make sure your interests are represented on Spring Street. 

John Setka