“It is totally unacceptable for the CFMEU in Queensland to force contractors to sign a pattern agreement that imposes massive costs to the industry and the community without productivity trade-offs,” Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

“The proposed agreement is economically reckless and unproductive,” he said.

“The community, including in Queensland deserves better from the CFMEU. The CFMEU’s agreement will rob the community of more schools, hospitals, childcare centres and other community infrastructure,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“What we are seeing in Queensland is the blatant return to the CFMEU’s traditional tactics; intimidating contractors in forcing them to sign economically reckless agreements that above all contain no productivity trade-offs,” he said.

“This week the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has heard extensive evidence that the CFMEU holds the livelihoods of building contractors to ransom, intimidating them to sign the union’s pattern agreement or risk going out of business,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“This is exactly what is going on in Queensland,” he said.

“The reckless attempt by the CFMEU highlights the urgent need for the cross bench Senators to support the return of the ABCC powers which will give contractors the ability to reject such reckless claims and at the same time protecting the interests of the community by not having to pay exorbitant costs for the construction of schools, hospitals, childcare facilities and other vital community facilities,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.

“Master Builders fully back the efforts of the Government, particularly those of Minister for Employment Senator Hon. Eric Abetz, to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and call on the cross bench senators to pass the Bill.  The evidence that has been brought before the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption and the Queensland CFMEU pattern agreement clearly demonstrates why the Australian community deserves the return of the powers of the ABCC,” he said.

“The Queensland pattern agreement is, like all pattern agreements, making a travesty of the current workplace relations system. Whilst the provision that permits paid two hour meetings virtually at the whim of the CFMEU may or may not be a permitted matter for inclusion in enterprise agreements under the Fair Work Act 2009, it has appeared in now hundreds of pattern agreements in Queensland and is a central element of the new pattern agreement.  It demonstrates that the certainty required of industrial relations law is easily undermined by a provision of this kind and shows official statistics about industrial disputes are increasingly unreliable.  Productivity improvements for the benefit of workers and employers alike should be the central focus of enterprise bargaining, not the entrenchment of union power,” Wilhelm Harnisch said.