Master builders, CFMEU in stoush over proposed wage increase across SA
The Master Builders Association is refusing to meet with South Australia’s construction union over a proposal which could see wages across the industry rise by up to 5 per cent.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) wants to even out pay rates across 100 enterprise agreements in the state, which would result in a pay increase for about two-thirds of the agreements.
Master Builders Association’s chief executive Ian Markos said in some instances, the wage increase would be up to three times the rate of inflation.
“Particularly in South Australia where we’re challenged from an economy perspective, and we have the highest unemployment in Australia, we do not think three times the inflation rate is fair,” he said.
Mr Markos said the association would not support a forced agreement on the whole industry and would not meet with the union to discuss it.
“We talk to the secretary of the CFMEU quite regularly here in South Australia, so we do communicate,” he said.
“However for this issue we are not interested in getting together and saying there will be some standard agreement across the entire industry.
“Each company’s got to be able to negotiate their own conditions and what can best suit their company and their employees.
“What you don’t want to do is give anyone the excuse to say ‘well I can’t afford this now so we’ll just close the doors or I won’t employee anyone else’.”
Association warns of cost blowouts
Mr Markos said even small wage increases could lead to cost blowouts for building companies.
But CFMEU state secretary Aaron Cartledge believed increased wages would actually make the industry more productive.
“We see that to have a productive industry you need to have a level playing field so that we attract the best and brightest of our kids into the industry,” he said.
“If they know there is a good future with decent conditions, we will attract the best kids in the industry.”