In this context, anecdotal evidence indicates that some unions are already talking about being “back in town” when the Government’s changes come into effect in February 2010.
Whilst the industry is still a tough and demanding one in which to operate, it is also one that is now characterized by a much greater sense of predictability and certainty than was the case prior to the establishment of the ABCC.
However, changes contained in the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill – lower fines, the repeal of unlawful industrial action provisions, and restrictions on the powers to interview – all have the potential to undo what has been achieved to date.
Different measures can be justified in the building and construction industry because the industry itself is different to most others. Royal Commissions and other enquiries dating back to 1982 have consistently exposed the violence, intimidation and disregard for the law that existed in parts of the industry, and the failure of conventional industrial laws and systems to effectively respond and deal with these issues.
This situation does not exist in any other industry sector.
It is critical at this time that the building and construction industry continues to be effectively controlled and regulated, given the stimulus spending being channelled into it by the Government as part of its stimulus package.