West Australian union boss Kevin Reynolds says industrial relations in Australia are “stuffed” as construction workers still face legal action despite reaching a compromise in their dispute.
More than 1,500 fly-in, fly-out workers are facing fines of up to $28,000 as well as jail time over strikes at Woodside Petroleum’s Pluto gas project in WA’s north in late 2009.
Contractors have taken action in the Federal Court against the individual workers who participate in the strike which ended in January.
Mr Reynolds, WA secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), says the workers face fines of up to $28,000 under two pieces of legislation.
Many of them won’t be able to afford the fine, and the union would struggle to cover any costs, which could potentially reach more than $40 million, he said.
“They wanted to teach the workers a lesson, that’s what they’re saying to us. It’s not very good for the future of industrial relations in this country.”
Mr Reynolds said the Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Fair Work Australia legislation had allowed workers to face such penalties.
Seems the unions can’t afford to help out the workers, but the unions seem to be able to afford to spend millions on advertising to try to get Labor re-elected. All this happened because of the strike that the workers had, did the unions tell the workers what might happen if they striked? Or did they just vote on the strike, and the unions said OK? Something is definitely not right with this. It seems another flaw in Julia’s IR laws.