The Fair Work Building and Construction Inspectorate (FWBC) has issued a media release warning contractors against entering into unregistered agreements that put them in breach of the current Building Code.
Under the Building Code, contractors cannot bargain for or make an agreement that provides for terms, conditions or benefits for the contractor’s employees unless that agreement is going to be registered. An exception to this is agreements between individuals and their employers.
The media release was prompted by FWBC becoming aware of a particular unregistered agreement flouting freedom of association laws:
“It is the policy of the company that all its employees subject to this agreement will be encouraged to join […] union. Accordingly, the company undertakes to positively promote union membership at the point of recruitment by strongly recommending that all employees join […] union.”
Under the Building Code, building contractors must proactively protect freedom of association rights – i.e. workers must be free to be a member or not be a member of a union.
FWBC General Manager Building Code, Cathy Cato, said she would not rule out recommending companies be sanctioned if they could not satisfy FWBC they were taking sufficient steps to address breaches. Sanctions may include being banned from working on Commonwealth-funded projects.
This latest move by FWBC is part of its renewed focus on code compliance matters following the appointment of Ms Cato, and is evidence that the FWBC has become increasingly proactive in this area whilst it awaits commencement of the proposed Building Code 2014.
It also comes after FWBC announced in July its first “anti-discrimination” case in the federal court against a builder for allegedly agreeing with the CFMEU to “black ban” non-union labour.
Ms Cato urged any contractor who is party to an unregistered written agreement to urgently report it to FWBC, as is required under the Building Code. “If you are not sure if the Code applies to you, or whether an agreement you have entered into breaches the Code, please contact us for advice,” Ms Cato said.
Master Builders strongly supports FWBC in its efforts to ensure the rule of law applies in the industry. Members seeking further information are encouraged to contact the Master Builders IR Department on (03) 9411 4560, or the FWBC hotline on 1800 003 338.