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Legal Issues Surrounding the New Building Code

August 9, 2017 0 Comments

The new building code released by the government faced its first legal challenge, with the Communication, Electrical, and Plumbing Union arguing that South Australian power workers must be exempted from the new code. have submitted an application to the federal court to downturn the decision.

SA power workerThis was caused by the Australian Building and Construction Commission recently ruling that several hundred SA Power Network workers should be covered by the new building code, which affects the rights of power workers working for federal government projects. Although the ABCC hold the power to grant exemptions from the building code, they chose not to exempt SA Power Networks construction and maintenance workers.

Under the Howard government, ABCC was introduced as the “Construction Watchdog”, but was later disbanded under Julia Gillard’s leadership. It was then replaced with Fair Work Building and Construction.

Part of ABCC’s reintroduction included a new building code which required all construction companies to follow the code’s policies on trade unionism. In a letter sent by ABCC to SA Power Networks, it was stipulated that power workers in their own construction and maintenance division are covered by the new code and will not be granted exemption.

The union argued the policy as unfair, saying that there have been no allegations of industrial disquiet or illegal workplace activities. Allen Hicks, president of the union, wrote to SA Power Network saying ABCC misunderstood the nature of the work of power workers.

“The impact of the Commissioner’s decision cannot be understated. The code is an instrument which, fundamentally, is not designed for the electricity industry. It strips away fundamental employment protections for … workers and imposes unnecessary and unwieldy obligations that jeopardise the long-standing industrial harmony that our two organisations have enjoyed.” said Hicks.

Filed in: Industry News

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