The Victorian Construction Code Compliance Unit is taking a firm stance against union delegates that gain entry into building sites under false pretences. Union officials are allegedly entering building sites using the excuse of safety complaints which are being fabricated.
The crackdown on union officials accessing construction sites coincides with the arrests of a number of CFMEU officials including Mick Powell and Peter Clark who were also accused of trespassing on construction sites.
Apparently the organisers entered the site to address health and safety breaches. According to reports the Victorian Construction Code Compliance Unit are working with the Victorian WorkCover Authority and Victoria Police about enforcing right-of-entry laws. According to an article on HeraldSun.com.au the Attorney General’s (Robert Clark) office confirmed the review of the procedure for enforcing the laws.
“The CCCU, Victoria Police and the Victorian WorkCover Authority are working together to ensure Victorian and Commonwealth laws are used as effectively as possible to promote safe, law-abiding and productive building industry workplaces in Victoria,” spokesman James Copsey said.
While the union has been accused of abusing their powers once again they have hit back saying that the crackdown was another attack on worker’s rights. They also feared that these measures would compromise safety.
“Building workers have a right to be safe at work. The CFMEU is seeking its own legal advice on those issues,” a union spokesman said.
A representative from Master Builders Victoria, Lawrie Cross the industrial relations manager also said that it was common for union officials to gain access onto building sites under the guise of workplace safety.
“Workplace safety should never be used as a political football by unions trying to get on site for other reasons,” he said.
While the unions have been accused of using safety as an excuse to get what they want, it is important that we in the industry do not become too involved in the politics between authorities and unions because this could be at the detriment of safety. Worker’s safety is still the main priority.
In order to ensure safety is always first on construction sites, the federal government recently approved a national general safety induction qualification known as the White Card.
The White Card provides a basis of safety knowledge upon which employers can build to ensure that a culture of safety prevails on their work sites and it is also a mandatory requirement. Workers found engaging in construction tasks without a valid White Card (or other coloured card if obtained in specific states prior to the nationalised system) can land in hot water if discovered by authorities and their employer can also be charged. In addition to the legal consequences, workers who have not been trained on construction safety are at a higher risk of injury and possibly death than those workers who have received White Card training.
The White Card itself is the small, credit card sized proof of having completed the course which students receive. Most students choose to complete the course online within a day, usually students take just 3 or 4 hours to complete the online assessments and thereafter a further few minutes to complete the verbal telephone based assessment, so there isn’t even any need to leave one’s home to complete the course. Click here to learn more.