'Wrecking ball' union will cost construction jobs, says Abetz
Liberal senator Eric Abetz has warned jobs could be lost in Tasmania as a result of the construction union taking industrial action.
The CFMEU said its members in Tasmania were the worst paid in the Australian building industry.
Those employed by commercial builders VOS and Hanson Yuncken want a $10-an-hour pay rise.
About 70 are taking protected industrial action which includes limiting their working hours and bans on pouring concrete and placing pre-cast sheets.
Senator Abetz hit out at union leader Kevin Harkins and his members’ demands.
“Just when the construction sector is getting back on its feet and creating jobs for our fellow Tasmanians, Mr Harkins and the CFMEU wrecking ball seeks to smash through that and prejudice the job creation that is just so vital for the Tasmanian economy,” he said.
“This sort of precipitous action by Mr Harkins and the CFMEU sends a very bad message to anybody that wants to invest and build in Tasmania.
“It will hurt job creation, there’s no doubt about that.”
The union said the completion of major projects like Parliament Square and the MACq 01 hotel in Hobart could face delays because of the industrial action.
Time for pay to catch up: Harkins
Mr Harkins said the state’s workers were paid about $28 an hour compared to the $35 earned by their interstate counterparts.
“The employers in Tasmania have been playing on the poor economic circumstances in this state for 20 to 30 years and at the moment things are a little better, so we think it’s time,” he said.
“We’ve put significant effort into trying to negotiate a reasonable outcome for our members.
“We think we’ve done a good job and if the employers continue to stubbornly hold their position, I suppose those inevitable consequences will come.”
Other construction sites around the state could also be affected.
Hansen Yuncken declined to comment while VOS is yet to respond.