Breaking Neutral: CFMEU v. Grocon, Round 1

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has taken protest against Grocon, the largest privately owned development, construction and investment management company in Australia, to Sydney’s bustling CBD this morning with allegations of intimidation and spying on it’s Pitt street site.

Further from this, CFMEU is also raising accusations that Grocon is also preventing union officials from conducting unobserved stop-work meetings with their members.

The rousing demonstration in Sydney this morning follows two days of aggressive rallying at Grocon’s Melbourne site where Union-centric employees continue to create a barricade at entry to the Myer Emporium construction zone, despite an order from the Victorian Supreme Court that they withdraw.

CFMEU NSW general secretary Brian Parker, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, stated that there have been safety issues in the past weeks, but that the union is particularly angry about Grocon’s intimidation tactics.

“What we’ve found in the last few weeks is that we’re not allowed to access the site unless there are unidentified people walking around with us,”
Mr Parker said.

“It’s intimidating officials but also intimidating workers who want to bring up legitimate safety, wages and conditions.”

“What we wanted was a commitment from the company that their unidentified representatives wouldn’t be in the meeting.”

If Sydney’s protester numbers, an apt 450 odd members, are representative of any fact, it’s that the arguments and demands for change by the CFMEU are of the collective interstate, not based on a single state unions ideals, that may allude to the possibility of a nationwide issue arising in the coming weeks. Part of this would logically depend on where Grocon currently has active projects in Australia.

If this is taken to State Court level then this may raise a larger question in the frame of corporations offering fair work conditions for their contracted subsidiaries/labour force: is excessive micromanagement, particularly when it impedes on an individual’s right to work as per their contractual requirements necessary? Furthermore what is the criteria for “security intervention” based on the idea of a “safer working environment”

More grapevine dumping to come as this story develops.

Interview references © 2012 Copyright (c) The Australian Financial Review

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