4 thoughts on “Frameworks of Flesh – Builders’ Labourers Battle for Health and Safety

    The campaign against the Australian Building & Construction Commission – secret police, has lately focussed on the Magistrate’s court case of Noel Washington. He’s been prosecuted for refusing to dob in fellow unionists.

    Rallies were held in Geelong on 12th September and around Australia.
    A solidarity petition has been circulating, advertisements shown in
    mixed media and meetings held on sites and with unionists in other

    A union-busting initiative of the past Liberal Government, the ABCC has continued under the new regime of the Australian Labor Party (aka “Alternative Liberal Party”). The Bosses want the ABCC to prosecute until at least 2010 and nearly all the politicians have agreed.

    On the job is where this struggle started. continues and is gonna be



    Rights on Site is a campaign for the 900,000 construction workers
    across Australia who do not have the same rights in their workplace as all other Australian workers.



    A documentary exposing the activity of an industrial inquisition
    targeting building workers across Australia. “Constructing Fear” shows
    how these workers are the front line in an attack on civil liberties
    that has implications for every Australian.

    Since 2005, the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) has targeted hundreds of workers. The ABCC conducts closed tribunals and seeks individual fines of up to $28,600. Those summonsed cannot refuse to attend a hearing; they cannot refuse to answer questions and they cannot tell anyone, including their families, what happened in the hearing. Penalty? Six months in prison!

    The ABCC’s operations have been described as “…foreign to the workplace relations of civilised societies, as distinct from undemocratic and authoritarian states.” (Federal Court Justice Marshall, 2004):


    6 minute excerpt from the doco:


    Defend Noel Washington – Abolish the ABCC

    National Abolish ABCC Committee Meets at Melbourne Trades Hall
    by Brian Boyd, VTHC Secretary 19 September 2008

    Today the national Abolish ABCC Committee met at Melbourne Trades Hall.
    Chaired by Dave Noonan, National Secretary CFMEU (Construction and General) Division, the meeting assessed the campaigns activities and general strategy to date.

    In particular, reports were heard about the ABCC’s court cases against CFMEU Vic senior official Noel Washington. His court case formally starts on Tuesday December 2nd and major rallies have been called for that day in Melbourne and Geelong.

    In NSW, a major rally has also been called for 12 Noon on that day that will march on the ABCC Offices in Sydney.
    Unions in WA are also planning march on the ABCC Offices in Mill St
    Perth on December 2nd as well.

    It was also reported that there has been a great response to the
    campaign’s ABCC facebook site, email campaign and the
    http://www.rightsonsite.org.au website. So far over 200,000 hits have

    Ads for airports were also discussed, especially for Canberra Airport
    because of the resolution being put forward in the federal ALP Caucus
    by Victorian Senator Gavin Marshall.

    The meeting noted there has been a very good national response to the anti-ABCC petition. Tens of thousands of signatures have already been gathered. Nearly 30,000 have been gathered in Victoria so far.

    Next meeting of the national Abolish ABCC Committee will be on Friday 3rd October.

    Mass Rallies – Tuesday 2nd December
    Melbourne – Assemble 9.00am cnr Toorak and St. Kilda Rds (tram Stop 22, adj 409 St Kilda Rd) then march on hte ABCC Headquaters (553 St. Kilda Rd).

    Geelong – Assemble 9.00am Geelong TLC and march to Johnstone Park opposite Geelong Court House.

  2. Speaking tour on controversial new book on the Australian union
    movement Tom Bramble, senior lecturer in industrial relations at the University of Queensland, and a member of Socialist Alternative, will be touring eastern Australia to introduce his new book Trade Unionism in Australia: a History from Flood to Ebb Tide, just published by Cambridge University Press.

    The book tells the story of trade unionism in Australia between
    the highpoint of union militancy in the 1960s and the state of the movement today.

    But the arguments he makes will not be popular with those who run theunion movement.

    In a series of meetings that address the question “What’s the way forward for the union movement?“, Tom argues that a revival of the fortunes of the union movement depends on a revival of militancy. He goes on to argue that whether this collapses or is sustained will depend on the outcome of sharp debates between those forces trying to rein it in, and those that want to push the process as far as it can be taken.

    The book argues that the current union leaders are not likely to
    countenance changes that may significantly challenge their position.

    Nonetheless, a revival is neither impossible, nor without precedent. At the start of the 20th century, and after the Great Depression, Australian unionism recovered from major setbacks. On both occasions the intervention of organised socialist groups provided the driving force to recruit and rebuild.

    Tom Bramble argues that “At the heart of rebuilding membership lies the capacity to organise and struggle. Creating organisations that can rebuild such traditions of militancy is the crucial element in the struggle today to revive Australian unionism“.

    Tom will be speaking at meetings sponsored by Socialist Alternative at the following times and places. Copies of the book will also be available at these meetings.

    Brisbane: 6.30pm Thursday 16 October,
    Trades and Labor Council Building,
    16 Peel St, South Brisbane.

  3. THE nation’s building commission watchdog has been embarrassed after charges against a construction unionist were formally withdrawn today.

    Police told the Melbourne Magistrates Court this morning that the charges of assaulting and threatening to kill two construction commission inspectors had been dropped.

    Brian George Shearer had faced two charges of unlawful assault, two of making threats to kill and two of threatening to cause harm to a public official.

    The offences had allegedly occurred at a construction site at the Melbourne suburb of Mill Park on December 6, 2006.

    It had been alleged that Mr Shearer assaulted and threatened Australian Building and Construction Commission inspectors Graham Burgoyne and Terry Duffy.

    For more see http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24383010-601,00.html

    Thanks to Jim Sharp for passing this on.

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