Tenth Anniversary Conference
Cultural Change in the Building Industry on the Sunshine Coast
This is the third paper we have prepared for the Society. The first, (Enterprise Agreements---Myth versus Reality In Queensland; Volume 8.2) was presented in my absence by my friend Keith Stenhouse in 1990. It was a precis of our experiences in actually setting up enterprise agreements in the field in 1989, under the then Queensland NPA government Enterprise Bargaining legislation.
The second paper, (Gaoled for Breaching the Award; Volume 14.3) was delivered in 1993 in conjunction with Barry Hammonds. It was about our adventures out west when we took on the AWU and, (I'm sad but not surprised to say) the United Graziers Association to introduce subcontract systems into shearing sheds. Although we clearly won the moral argument hands down, and union membership and influence around the Charleville area in particular has plummeted, as yet no-one has bothered to do what the whole purpose of the exercise was about, and that was to introduce new technologies to what is simply a 150-year-old inefficient factory process. But at least one doesn't have to ask Bill Ludwig for permission to do anything any more, though I would have thought someone by now would have figured out conveyor belts can be pretty handy to move stuff from one place to another rather than have people walking backwards and forwards all day carrying stuff. It'll eventually happen I suppose.
Agency subcontracting systems had been around since the year dot, used by firms such as Skilled Engineering, Kirby's et al, although the legal test of this widely used concept was actually made by a building industry personnel agency called Troubleshooters Available who, in 1989, took the building unions all the way to the High Court with NFF funding. (See The Troubleshooters Case, Vol 12.6 of the proceedings of the HR Nicholls Society).
Hundreds of personnel agencies around the country now supply subcontractors as opposed to employees. One of these agencies, John Reddy's Labour Hire Australia, operating out of Caloundra and Brisbane, later became part of the reform mechanism of the Sunshine Coast building industry. As you will see by what we achieved, this reform mechanism could be fairly easily adapted as a template for reform of the wharves. There is certainly no excuse any more for anybody reading this, to then fail to achieve identical results on any building sites in the land. And all without new legislation.
Whilst in no way advocating that the existing outrageous industrial laws in the building game be retained, the reality is that effective and complete reform can be, and has been achieved, within the existing disgraceful framework. Perhaps more to the point, I don't believe any form of legislation will really help much in the building industry. The existing problem has little to do with the law. It is currently observed only in the breach, and there is little reason to believe any new legislation or industrial law would be treated any differently. Effective reform will most likely be achieved in a manner similar to the Sunshine Coast exercise I have set out. The fundamental purpose of this paper is to simply supply a template that can be followed by others elsewhere to achieve similar results.
When we started in the building game, about all we knew was that it was believed impossible to work in the building industry (the commercial side anyway) without a union ticket. As a result we had made the decision not to get on the sticky paper and compromise our principles with respect to the Right of Association. We believed and still do that that should always be the sole prerogative of no-one other than the worker.
The importance of moral argument had been well established in our foray into subcontract shearing. The AWU were extremely frustrated to find that every time they tried to paint Hammonds and I as evil, exploitative, silver-tailers trying to manipulate workers, they would hear on radio or see on tv one of our agency subcontract workers slipping it into them and telling all and sundry that was how they wanted to work. Actor/directors rarely get it right, so we learned it was usually more effective to stay in the background if possible.
Anyway, relative fame or infamy from the shearing exercise generated some enquiry from the building industry. A friend of mine, the local chairman of the Master Builders Association, Terry Welch, was having enormous problems with the BLF in particular, and finding the best advice he could get from the QMBA was "try not to upset them". He convened a meeting of a number of the larger builders on the coast (about half a dozen) and invited the QMBA's Chief Industrial Officer up to discuss what could be done about the growing pernicious and disruptive union influence on building. Two things of interest came out of that meeting:
- 1. The QMBA man said that, because of the Building Industry Agreement and the Crane Drivers Agreements, the unions were too strong. Since the QMBA was signatory to both agreements, we felt it was pointless dwelling on why they would enter into agreements (on behalf of their membership) that were clearly detrimental to their members' interests. When moral cowardice is trumpeted as a virtue called industrial reality' it's usually more productive to just move on.
- 2. One of the builders in attendance, Aldo Bevaqua, made it clear it was only since he had left the QMBA that he had been trouble-free. We discussed the basic principles he had developed. They were:
- a) No-one got a contract to do any work or supply anything unless they gave him a personal undertaking not to go on strike, and/or would continue to work/supply irrespective of what union officials might say.
- b) It would never be a site condition to be in the union. Unions were always free to recruit on site if they could, but Aldo never made it compulsory.
Terry Welch and I then decided to call a public meeting to explain to those parties interested in the building industry how they could deal with recalcitrant unions. We wanted to run the flag up the pole to see how many would salute. We expected about 50 to turn up. 300-400 crammed into the local pub to hear what we had to say. It was obvious we had struck a nerve.
We certainly had with the Brisbane office of the Master Builders Association who were most disapproving of their local area chairman spreading heresies about actually getting rid of the pernicious influence of unwarranted building unions.
The Williams assault
On 21 May 1993, at about 10.30 am, an agency subcontractor,
Pip Williams, and his principal bricklayer, Brian Elliot, burst
into our office. Poor Pip was looking the worse for wear, having
just had his face rearranged by a BLF official named John Edwards.
Image 1: BLF union officials Terry Tye and John Edwards
walking onto the site where Pip Williams was assaulted.
We sent them both to the police station to lodge a report,
and I went to the building site hoping to get witnesses. Amazingly,
the builders, Don Heath and Rob Sauverain, had not only taken
some photos but also actually taped the whole incident. After
a particularly nasty visit by union officials the week prior,
Heath's solicitor had advised him to get a mini tape recorder
and record them if they ever returned. Unlike the 99 out of 100
other builders who wouldn't bother, Heath actually did.
We guessed, correctly as it turned out, the police probably
would not want to know. So it was important to immediately get
witness statements in affidavit form. Heath, Sauverain and Brian
Elliot showed remarkable courage by offering to testify. We also
had the photos developed and called the media.
Image 2: Pip Williams about one or two minutes after he
The local TV did a story, and the newspaper ran the story on
the front page.
One of the agency clients, a formwork contractor named Ron
Jenkins, decided we should beat these bastards at their own game.
Ron, who had had more trouble than he could poke a stick at with
the unions in the past, offered to help, although he wasn't involved
on that particular site. He made up some posters and did night-time
runs to plaster them all over building sites. Everyone was talking
about the "phantom poster put-upper" and most importantly,
which was what we wanted, laughing at the hapless union officials
who were the brunt of fairly childish calumny. But hey! It worked.
If there is a lesson here, it's simply that credibility is best
destroyed by jest.
Image 4: Graeme Haycroft and Ron Jenkins socialising at
a fundraising. [No we don't own any race horses]
The Roger Winton building site dispute
In 1993, commercial building of the high-rise variety was in
a sizeable slump and building unions were involved in a push to
unionise the middle ground small unit blocks, 3-storey walk-ups,
which were most often built by the house builders traditionally
not subject to union activity. The house building sector is world
competitive, and almost entirely performed by subcontractors not
employees. The union activities on the seemingly fertile Sunshine
Coast had been severely blunted by the publicity from the Pip
Williams bashing and the Ron Jenkins' poster campaign, and the
workers were palpably angry at the union overstepping the mark.
So the unions refocussed their attention on Brisbane.
They picked on a 3-storey walk-up in Petrie Terrace, being
built by a builder of excellent repute, Roger Winton, under the
housing provisions of his builder's registration. Atypical of
the commercial sector but typical of the housing sector, all the
workers on his site, with the exception of an apprentice, were
subcontractors. The unions decided to make an example of him,
claiming his site was a commercial project and therefore their
territory. They simply wanted to force union membership and registration
in the union BUSS super fund on everyone, including subcontractors
on the site. This was in return for industrial peace (absolutely
no different from the Mafia). The strategy was simple. Get Winton
to wimp out and make union membership compulsory on the site,
then every other 3-storey walk-up would be union territory.
In summary, this is what happened:
- 1. The builder received a notice, setting out the terms of
resolution of the dispute. This of course was the first anybody
had heard of a dispute. (See appendices 5 & 6.)
- Winton did what the union didn't expect him to do. He asked
his subbies if they wanted to join the union. They said no. So
Winton, delightfully naive, told the unions he wouldn't be able
to comply because his workers weren't interested.
- 2. The union organisers threatened the scaffolding contract
company with trouble on their other sites if they didn't stop
work on the Winton site. This was a typical action that nobody
ever seemed to question. The scaffolders just walked off. It
was an everyday occurrence.
- 3. The removal of the scaffolders meant the site was left
unsafe. The W H & S officer obliged with numerous unsafe'
- 4. We were asked by the HIA to help, and offered to supply
some licensed scaffolders who would work in spite of the ban.
I arrived, with three very nervous young scaffolder blokes, and
was confronted by about 10 union officials. They made it clear
that, if our scaffolders worked on that site, they would never
work again. But if they didn't work on that site, the union would
get them work. Amazingly these blokes fell for that spiel and
wouldn't work. Round 1 to the unions.
- 5. The next day we got another bloke, with a bit more iron,
and lined up a Health & Safety Consultant to supervise the
work. We had briefed the media and the police that there could
be trouble, and when it happened we called them. But when Channel
9 arrived, the union officials went quiet. So no confrontation,
no pictures, no news. The police refused to act to remove the
trespassing officials, because they claimed it was an industrial
dispute, and the Health & Safety Consultant was warned he'd
never get a Civil & Civic site if he didn't leave immediately.
He left. Round 2 to the unions. I had made the bad mistake of
not personally being there.
- 6. On the Monday, Roger Winton and I approached Warwick Temby
of the HIA and asked the HIA to meet civil legal injunction costs
if needed. Sections 45 D&E were still around and were a real
threat to the unions, if used the right way. Temby thought the
issue was crucial and offered to back Winton all the way without
Image 5: First page of the letter of demand from the unions
on Roger Winton.
Image 6: Second page of that letter.
- 7. Winton and his supervisor, Lloyd Reynolds, met with the
union officials on Wednesday. Unions love dealing with intermediaries;
they are most uncomfortable with principals. Accordingly, I briefed
Winton and Reynolds and they went in alone and covered three
- a) They were not ever going to coerce the subcontractors
to join the union. There would be no compromise.
- b) They had unqualified HIA support for legal expenses, if
needed. Showed they were serious.
- c) They challenged the union officials to talk to the subcontractors
themselves, on site. Obviously believing their own propaganda,
the union officials agreed. Big mistake as it turned out. Round
3 a draw. (The site was still closed, but there was light at
the end of the tunnel.)
- 8. We made up a Workers Choice' sign to gee-up the
workers, and on Thursday took it to the site. They all loved
it. The Sunday Mail took a photo and had the story ready for
Sunday. (See Image 7.)
- We were advised a number of Winton's regular subbies were
on another site at Taigum, so I went to stir up attendance for
Friday's meeting. About 30 or 40 workers stopped to hear what
I had to say and all agreed to arrive at 7 am on the Petrie Terrace
site, not only to support Roger but to make sure the subbies
could work on the site in spite of the union officials. These
boys were real angry by the time I left them.
- 9. At six o'clock on Friday morning, I arrived to brief a
core group of subbies and supplied them with 20 or 30 placards
(we'd painted them the night before). "Down with the BLF",
"We want to work", "Norm Gallagher is a fairy",
etc, in case the union tried to stop work. I was keen to have
good pictures for the TV cameras, if needed.
- I disappeared from the site, and the union officials duly
arrived to run a 20-minute tirade against the HIA. (See appendices
8, 9, 10 and 11.)
- One of the subbies then moved a motion to "let's stop
listening to this crap and get back to work". The union
officials walked away bewildered and the subbies simply started
work. Round 4, and the match, to the workers.
I wrote a complete report for the HIA with certain recommendations
for future reference and action.
It's instructive to pause here and consolidate what we had
What is it that underpins union power in the building industry?
It has nothing to do with affection, ideology or principle. It
is simply an applied form of criminal coercion. This is why changed
industrial relations legislation won't help much in the building
game. Although the existing law is all stacked in their favour,
they simply ignore it anyway. Any new legislation would be ignored
as well. You have to play them at their own game to win.
Image 7: The "workers choice" sign put
up onto the site and photographed for "Sunday Mail"
Appendices 8 and 9: The first two union handouts
on the Winton site.
Appendices 10 and 11: The other handouts from the union
which the subcontractors really enjoyed.
Here are the elements
It is their perceived power to be able to:
- a) Prevent individual workers from gaining work in the industry
("If you take that bloke on, we'll black' the site").
Norm Gallagher developed this technique to an art form. Dozens
of workers who had upset him were simply hounded right out of
the industry, and he made sure everyone knew he'd done it.
- b) Cause financial loss to builders and subcontractors by
stopping supplies of critical components: scaffolding, cranes,
concrete. The threat of being black-listed by the unions was
generally enough to induce suppliers to breach their contracts.
The scaffolding contractor and the Health & Safety Consultants
on the Winton site preferred to walk away rather than be black-banned
from other union sites. There was no penalty on them if they
breached their contracts.
- C) Prevent builders and subcontractors from using certain
suppliers. The threat of "We'll stop you from supplying
to Civil and Civic sites" always seemed to work, although
I doubt whether anyone ever bothered to ask Civil and Civic whether
they would ban anyone or any supplier just because the unions
- We believed if that cycle could be broken, as we'd done
on the Winton site, reform would be possible in spite of what
the industry participants believed.
- Breaking the Cycle
It is here that the illuminating insight of D R Russell QC
must be acknowledged. Russell showed us that the standard contracts
in use in the building industry tended to absolve subcontractors
and suppliers from complying with the terms of their contract
if their work was interrupted by Acts of God and industrial disputation.
(See Image 12.)
So the scaffolder who walked off the Winton site suffered no
penalty. Yet the blame' for the stoppage was aimed squarely at
the other recalcitrant subbies who would not join the union.
Russell drafted some amendments as an addendum to the standard
HIA contract, which reversed that situation. Industrial disputes
are not Acts of God, as much as Bill Kelty would like to think
they are, and any subcontractor on a site who now doesn't perform
to this contract is liable for any consequent losses his ill-advised
actions lead to. (See Image 13.)
Image 12: Standard QMBA contract wording which tends to
let defaulting contractors off the hook. [See clause 2]
Image 13: Standard Queensland HIA contract wording which
incorporates the Russell amendments [see clause 10]
It was certainly a new concept in the building industry
for anyone to be held responsible for their own actions. If that
form of contract had been in place on Roger Winton's site then
the scaffolder who walked off would have been responsible for
all the losses occasioned by his action. Subsequent experience
has proven no-one leaves if they actually believe they will get
the bill for the losses caused by such action.
A supply contract was developed which, along with the Russell
amendments to the HIA standard contract, has now become standard
Queensland HIA documentation. All HIA members were encouraged
to only deal with suppliers willing to enter into supply contracts'
that made the suppliers liable for liquidated damages in the event
of non-supply for industrial relations reasons. In reality, these
onerous provisions were actually welcomed by suppliers because
it gave them the perfect excuse to supply'. ("I'm right behind
you union blokes and I'd love to stop the concrete, brother, but
I'm locked into this contract I can't get out of".)
A secondary campaign was started, to identify and notify
HIA members about those suppliers who were unreliable'. The builder
black-list. Of course this list doesn't really exist, just as
the union black-list never really existed.
After the Winton dispute, where the police failed to act
against clearly criminal actions of trespass' and threats', my
report to the HIA suggested that the police, at Commissioners
level, be briefed by the HIA lawyers about a code of practice
to eject illegally trespassing union officials. Subsequent actions
on the Sunshine Coast proved the importance of this, because the
police became actively involved to prevent illegal union actions.
Injunctions against union harassment
At the time of the Winton dispute, Sections 45 D&E of
the Trade Practices Act were available, but union officials had
largely learned to avoid their impact. Without video cameras actually
recording threats and actions, it was very difficult to make anything
stick. But these sections weren't a bad tool to use as a threat
against them and it was better than having nothing at all.
Summary of Breaking the Cycle
It is most important to understand that building union officials
collectively haven't got an ideological bone in their bodies.
The entire union member recruiting exercise is simply commercial.
By threat and coercion, they bully builders into forcing workers
to pay the builders' protection money' (i.e. the builders make
it a contractual condition with the subcontractors that all personnel
are to be members of the union, have contributions made to the
BUSS super fund, and usually also the BIRT redundancy trust, so
the builders, not the workers who have to pay, can have industrial
peace). The workers are never asked. Even worse, any worker who
bucks the system will be blacked from that site and all future
sites. On the Winton site, when the union officials were haranguing
the workers at the Friday morning meeting they didn't ever bother
to ask the workers to actually join.
The key to success was to set up sites in such a way that
they couldn't be closed down by the unions. Once the unions realised
there was going to be no commercial joy (memberships), then they
would go elsewhere. In practice, this is precisely what happened.
Back to the Sunshine Coast
The Toomey site - a high-rise in Caloundra needing
a tower crane. (See Image 14.)
Image 14: The completed Toomey site in Golden Beach [circa
Early in 1994, developer Geoff Toomey decided that keeping
union rules on his site was going to add 10-12% to his budgeted
costs. (It wasn't the union membership that increased costs, it
was the nonsense union rules of RDO's, penalty rates on weekends,
38-hour weeks etc.)
In conjunction with HIA rep, Nev Shields, who was one of
the driving forces in this campaign, (his successor, Ray McCarthy,
was equally committed) we worked through every potential major
subcontractor and supplier to the site, making sure everyone would
sign a HIA contract or HIA supply agreement. Those who wouldn't,
simply didn't get the job.
The only real problem was the crane operator. Until recently,
the only way to get a crane ticket was through the union. The
building unions kept the list and allocated the work. The MBA
helped the unions enormously by agreeing to the Crane Drivers
Agreement, which virtually removed the right of the builder to
change the crane driver if, for some reason, the crane driver
wouldn't do his job. i.e. if a union official came on site and
asked the driver to stop, irrespective of what the builder said
the driver would always stop.
In practice, the Crane Drivers Agreement prevented the builder
from sacking the driver under those circumstances. Any driver
who didn't stop when told to by a union official was simply black-listed
and couldn't work in future. This still happens today.
However if you look hard enough, you can always find someone
willing to buck the system. We even initiated enquiry in New Zealand,
but didn't need to pursue it because we found a driver and dogman.
We also found a second driver and made sure the first driver knew
he could be replaced at a moment's notice by the second driver.
Before the job started, we held meetings on the site and
actually asked the workers if they wanted the site to be a union
site or a free site. (About 80% of the site workers already had
union tickets, needed for other sites.) The local newspaper was
present at the vote and the workers voted unanimously for it to
be a free site, not a compulsory union site. No-one had ever asked
them before. We briefed them to not stop work unless their principal
subcontractor or the builder asked them to. If union officials
came onto the site they were not to stop work, irrespective
of what they were told. It was precisely what the workers wanted
to hear. They hated being pushed around by these morons. (See
A couple of weeks on, a car-load of union heavies stormed
onto the site, yelling and carrying on, demanding that the site
stop. Toomey rang me and I suggested he call the police if they
were trespassing. When I arrived the police were already there
and had ordered them off the site. The police were aware of the
limitations of the industrial law re access, and in their view
the officials were trespassing. No-one had stopped working. The
crane driver had locked his door, switched off the two-way radio,
and was working with the whistles. The local paper came down and
ran a story about the union's unsuccessful attempt to close the
site. (See Image 16.)
Meanwhile, back in the court room, about three months after
the Pip Williams' assault, the local police had finally decided
to charge John Edwards, the BLF official who had slugged him.
The case was into its third sitting. (See Image 17.)
The final day of the court case was three days shy of a
year from the assault. The BLF spent a fortune on a QC, who produced
a supposed audio expert, a Robert Pandolini, who tried to establish
that the tape recording of the assault made by builder, Don Heath,
was in fact an elaborate studio mock-up. The court was asked to
believe that in the time taken from the assault at 9 am, until
2 pm when the solicitor received it and had it transcribed, Don
Heath and I had mocked up the whole thing in a recording studio.
(See Image 18.)
Image 15: The Sunshine Coast Daily 7/4/94 where
union officials had failed to close the Toomey site.
Image 16: Self evident news story.
Image 17: The essence of Edwards defense in the Sunshine
Coast Daily 23/2/94.
Edwards' primary defence seemed to rest on the proposition
that he only hit Williams once, in response to provocation (Williams
had allegedly turned a hose on him), and not the half dozen to
a dozen times the three witnesses saw him hit Williams. Edwards
claimed if he had hit Williams more than once, Williams would
never have got up. But because Williams had got up, he must have
therefore only hit him once. The magistrate wasn't convinced,
and found him guilty. Edwards, who had agreed to appear on Current
Affair beforehand, pulled out at the last minute, after the
guilty verdict was handed down.
Since I had the colour pictures of the assault, a copy of
the tape, signs, work site witnesses, plus a plausible alternate
story about the victory of the little guys against the bully boy
unions, Current Affair did my version of it. The Australian
did a story too. (See Image 19.)
John Edwards has not been seen on the Sunshine Coast since.
And his partner, Terry Tye, now only does the area north of Maroochydore.
Image 19: The picture and story in the Australian 19/5/94.
The Bevaqua site (See Image 20.)
At the same time Toomey was doing his site, Aldo Bevaqua
started his. As he was the initiator of our whole strategy, it
was interesting to help him tighten up his procedures with the
HIA contracts and supply agreements. Labour Hire Australia was
engaged to supply the second crane driver. Interestingly Pip Williams
was also on this site, working with the brick laying contractor
Brian Elliott. (The court case had just recently ended.) When
the union heavies inevitably arrived, Aldo patiently pointed out
that as Pip was on the site it wouldn't look good to have the
BLF there as well. They left, and the site was virtually trouble
free until its completion.
The Stanley site (See Image 21.)
However the Stanley site was not so smooth.
Everyone was properly signed up, including the scaffolders.
The first attack came when the scaffold suppliers rang to say
they couldn't supply any more scaffolding. The job was at a crucial
stage where failure to secure more scaffolding would have meant
the job had to close. But unbeknown to the scaffold company head
office, their field rep had signed the supply contract and they
were locked in. Believe me, the scaffold company didn't like it
when the HIA solicitors pointed out to them they would perform
to their contract of supply or be sent a bill for liquidated damages.
A rather devious deal was struck to let them off the hook
a bit so they could lie to the unions about what had really happened.
It involved the builder having to pick up the scaffolding rather
than have it delivered. (Don't worry, a substantial chunk was
deducted from the contract price for that little inconvenience.)
With Workplace Health and Safety restrictions applying unless
the scaffolding could be on site by a certain day the next week,
the unions - like vultures gathering around a dying lamb - announced
they would be there at 7 am on the day to help out with what they
thought were to be the new site work arrangements. At exactly
6.55 am Ron Jenkins, the formwork contractor, arrived with a semi-trailer
load of scaffolding. The look on the faces of the union officials
reminded me of a child being denied an ice-cream.
That same day, the scaffold erection contractor (not the
supplier), who had also signed a HIA contract, rang to explain
he had been advised not to finish the work, otherwise he would
be threatened with a black-ban on another major developer's site.
He honestly believed that was an acceptable excuse and was quite
amazed to find that "Oh sorry" was no longer sufficient
compensation for the loss his action, or more correctly inaction
was likely to cost the builder. When it was pointed out to him
he would be getting the bill for the liquidated damages for the
site, he realised we meant business.
The unions also tried to stop the crane by threatening the
crane hire company. The developer, who had a series of developments
lined up, decided the easiest solution was simply to purchase
his own crane. The job got done and came in under budget.
There have been innumerable smaller jobs where the HIA sign
or the Ron Jenkins formwork banner goes up and that's the end
of it. (See appendices 22 and 23.)
Image 22: A "FREE" site in Noosa where the workers
were allowed to decide themselves about union membership
There are currently three major projects under way, one
almost complete, where the unions have realised they are simply
commercial, no-go zones. (See appendices 24 and 25.)
This has nothing to do with ideology. If the unions are
on the site, then the Labour Hire Australia subbies are not. It's
a case of them or us. Just commercial reality. But unlike the
commercial reality of the Master Builders Association, our commercial
reality is supported by the moral argument of defence of the Right
of Association of the workers. (See Image 26.)
If there is one factor that is significant, it's the now
general belief on the Sunshine Coast that unions can be beaten,
and high-rise sites can work just like housing sites; with no
employees, only subcontractors. This certainly was not the case
two years ago. That is the cultural change.
Union power was based entirely upon their apparent invincibility.
When it became widely known that building union officials, who
simply acted as they liked with absolute impunity, could be prosecuted,
workers started to defy and ignore their demands. Even worse for
the unions, they began to laugh at them.
When principal subcontractors actually believe the entire
site can be free of compulsory unionism and the builder won't
force them all to comply with the pernicious union work practices,
then quotes will start to come in substantially cheaper. This
is now happening. On the Sunshine Coast you can reliably build
a high-rise probably 15% cheaper than anywhere else in the country
where unions dominate.
Workers, who once looked to unions to agitate for overtime
and penalty rate work for the last weeks of the job, now realise
regular 45-50 hour weeks throughout the whole of the job actually
generate more money. And with building now becoming less expensive,
there will always be another job for them. Most importantly, no
bastard orders them around any more. And don't they love it! (See
The building industry still has many problems. Security
of payments, inane and largely inappropriate Workplace Health
& Safety regulations, excessive workers compensation insurance
costs, bureaucratic and expensive licensing schemes, a Building
Services Authority that does nothing but cost money to justify
itself, are but a few.
However, the solutions to industrial relations problems,
even without workable Sections 45 D&E type provisions, are
entirely up to the builders themselves.
If builders choose not to have industrial problems, and
if they follow our system, they simply won't have them.
If however they don't want to follow our system, then they
will have a continuation of the expensive, exploitative shambles
that is now the union-run commercial building industry.
It's all a matter of choice. (See Image 28.)
Image 23: Another "FREE" site in Caloundra that
was trouble free.
Image 24: The Tropani site nearly completed in Maroochydore[circa
Image 25: The site adjacent to the Reef Hotel in Noosa[circa
Image 26: The Matt Leake site in Hastings St Noosa. The
unions later tried to have the crane removed.
Image 27: The same irreverent discussing the relevance of
Workplace Health & Safety which requires them to wear hard
hats even though nothing is above them that can fall.
Image 28: John Reddy[with crutches] and some of the Labour
Hire Australia crew.[circa May 1996]
LIST OF IMAGES
1. BLF union officials Terry Tye and John Edwards walking
onto the site where Pip Williams was assaulted.
2. Pip Williams about 30 seconds after the assault.
3. The front page of the Sunshine Coast Daily the following
4. Graeme Haycroft and Ron Jenkins socialising at a fund-raiser.
(No, we don't own a race horse.)
5. First page of the letter of demand from the unions on
6. Second page of that letter.
7. The Workers Choice' sign put up on the Winton site.
8. First handout from union to subcontractors on Winton
9. Second handout from union to subcontractors on Winton
10. Third handout from union to subcontractors on Winton
11. Fourth handout from union to subcontractors on Winton
12. Standard QMBA contract wording which tends to let defaulting
subcontractors off the hook (see clause 2).
13. Standard Queensland HIA contract wording which incorporates
the Russell amendments, (see clause 10).
14. The completed Toomey site in Golden Beach Caloundra
(circa May, 1996).
15. Sunshine Coast Daily 7/4/94 where union officials had
failed to close the Toomey site.
16. Headline Union organiser faces court on assault charge'.
17. The essence of Edwards defence in the Sunshine Coast
18. Edwards found guilty.
19. The picture and story in the Australian 19/5/94.
20. The Bevaqua site in the centre of Caloundra (circa May,
21. The Stanley site in Canberra Terrace Caloundra (circa
22. Another union-free site in Noosa (circa May, 1996).
23. A trouble-free site in Caloundra (circa May, 1996).
24. The Tropani site nearly completed in Maroochydore (circa
25. The site adjacent to the Reef Hotel in Noosa (circa
26. Labour Hire Australia subbies on a hi-rise development
in Hastings Street, Noosa (circa May, 1996).
27. The same irreverent bunch demonstrating their cheerful
non-compliance with workplace safety regulations which require
them to wear helmets even when there is nothing above them.
28. John Reddy (with the crutches), Ben Haycroft, Val Downes
and Matthew Haycroft outside the Labour Hire Australia offices
in Caloundra (circa May, 1996).