Contributed from Victoria
Freedom of information provisions have revealed that the top chiefs of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) received generous pay increases of about 14 percent last year.
One of the commissioners found his take went up from $199,000 to $222,500 and another two from $185,000 to $210,000. Seven are now being paid more than $210,000.
These individuals are highly rewarded, because they are hired to carry out the dirty work of ensuring that that section of the workforce engaged in one of the most dangerous industries, has its own pay and working conditions undermined.
The ABCC is not an independent tribunal to deal with matters before it, in a balanced ad fair way. It is a political police force, operating with impunity, and denies the usual legal protections to those it hunts down.
This is why those who make the decisions are handsomely rewarded by a government hell bent on carrying out its “class war” against constrtuction workers across Australia. It needs to buy the loyalty of its principal henchmen.
A key function of theirs is to de-unionise the industry. They do this by employing provision that make it extremely hard for officials to communicate with their members. There is no right of entry onto the job. Delegates and rank and file members have little right to pursue matters of concern. Even minor breaches of the stringent conditions, risk being dragged before the ABCC.
There is little doubt that the construction industry is a test case. If successful here, the same will be applied to other industries. Fortunately, this has been held back by the ongoing resistance of the construction industry workforce and their unions.
One thing that has revealed the mercenary nature of the ABCC, is the departure of disgraced head Nigel Hadkiss, who eventually admitted breaching the law in the carrying out his role. The Commission handed out more than $418,000 for Hadkiss’ legal defence and he walked away without suffering any penalty at all.
Hadkiss’ new replacement, Stephen McBurney, is being paid $426,160 a year.
Overall, the ABCC spent almost a third of its last financial year’s budget, that is $11 million, on lawyers
The pay rise has shown the double standard of a government that is at the same time, actively imposing very limited pay increases for nearly all government employees. The only exception to the rule are the top executives. Their loyalty has to be paid for as well.
Australia’s public sector is being shaped as a weapon to wage the government’s class war across the field. Through restrictions to service and ongoing privatisations, resources are being channeled upstairs, to the wealthiest individuals and everyone else gets left with less.
Referring to the ABCC pay rises, Community Public Sector Union secretary Nadine Flood called it “an outrage.”
“How can the government possibly justify giving a juicy pay rise to an ABCC exec who’s already on $200,000 a year when the pay of a working mum in Centrelink was frozen for more than three years?” she said.
she added that that “on wages, they give hefty pay rises to those who are already on the big bucks while drip feeding average earners who are struggling to get by.”