The Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) 2013-14 Annual Report highlights that the FWBC investigated 977 contraventions of Commonwealth workplace laws and used its compulsory compliance powers four times (a figure that had increased to 11 by the end of last month).
There has been a noticeable shift in the types of contraventions investigated compared to the last financial year. As of 30 June 2014, contraventions of right of entry had more than doubled, accounting for nearly a quarter of FWBC’s investigation work. Contraventions relating to freedom of association and coercion also increased, confirming the upward trend in investigations into the agency’s redefined ‘core business’ — coercion, unlawful industrial action, freedom of association and right of entry.
FWBC commenced 25 penalty proceedings in the 12 months, nearly double the amount from the previous financial year “due to the enhanced investigatory and litigation focus”. Of the $2.26 million in penalties imposed by the courts, 62% was for unlawful industrial action. During 2013-2014, the FWBC conducted 1746 site visits (up from 1366 the previous year), with the highest number in Victoria (472).
FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss also claimed there was a “renewed energy and enthusiasm” among agency staff he says were “jaded, and understandably so” when he took over.
Master Builders strongly supports the FWBC in its role of enforcing the rule of law in the construction industry and calls upon the cross-bench senators to pass the legislation necessary to reinstate the ABCC, in order to better equip the regulator in its pursuit of this objective. In the interim, Master Builders is encouraged by FWBC’s renewed focus on core business and reports of the renewed energy and enthusiasm of its inspectors in carrying out this important task.