Construction workers fight to get back work after union strikes
Posted July 27, 2018 15:23:31Truck drivers and workers in the construction industry are planning a historic walkout on Saturday in protest of the Government’s decision to impose a lockout on construction workers.
Key points:Truckers say the lockout will affect their jobs and affect their livelihoodsKey pointsWorkers say they will walk off the job until they can secure an agreement with the GovernmentConstruction workers have been on strike for two yearsThe union says the Government has failed to address concerns over safety in the industryKey pointsTruck workers are demanding an agreement to protect their safety and working conditionsConstruction workers are protesting the Government lockout on Friday as they try to get a contract to return to work.
A large group of workers have planned to walk out at 5:00pm at the site of the proposed $2.8 billion development at Wollongong.
A number of contractors are also holding walkouts as part of their campaigns.
They say the Government is ignoring their concerns and that the project is already facing a major safety and performance shortfall.
Truck driver Dave Thompson is one of those workers who are on strike.
“The government’s lockout is not going to change anything for me personally, I can’t imagine how much more stress that would cause,” he said.
“But I know that the Government doesn’t have a lot of money.
So I’m going to keep my head down and go on.”
Construction workers say the lock-out will affect the safety of the industry.
“I’m not sure what’s going to happen,” said contractor and truck driver David Thomas.
“We’re going to be very disappointed to see that, it’s a major job for us, it won’t be the end of the world.”
Truck Drivers’ union says Government lockout will impact their jobsConstruction workers want an agreement before they return to their jobsWorkers want an offer that includes a pay rise and a safety guaranteeThe Government is currently considering a range of options, including an indefinite lockout that would last at least three months.
The Government says the lockout would allow the contractor to ensure safety and perform more efficiently.
“Our safety, our performance and the welfare of the people of the State is of paramount importance,” Industry Minister James Merlino said.
Mr Merlino also defended the Government decision to hold a walkout.
“They’ve been on a very, very long strike for the last two years,” he told 7.30.
“That’s been in place for two to three years, so the company has been working very closely with the unions to find the right way forward.”
The Government has not been able to negotiate a solution to the lockout, so it is up to the unions, Mr Merlino added.
“There’s been a lot more than one option, and it’s been an ongoing negotiation.”
The unions have made a series of demands, including a pay increase of at least $4,000 and a guarantee that the contractors would be held to the highest safety standards.
“What we’re asking for is a reasonable wage increase and a safe environment for the workers,” Mr Thompson said.
Trucks are one of the most common jobs in the sector, with about 50,000 trucks registered across the State.
“It’s the busiest sector of the construction sector and the Government hasn’t done enough to support the sector,” he added.
Construction workers believe the Government does not have the money to pay for safety measures and safety training, so they have launched a campaign for a $1.5 billion funding boost to the industry and to hire more truck drivers.
The workers also want the Government to provide a safety plan for the contractors, as well as better training for construction workers and the public.
“These are the issues that really matter to the public,” Mr Thomas said.