CFMEU fined $1.25m

THE militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has been fined $1.25 million for a mixture of civil and criminal contempt offences on the sites of construction giant Grocon in 2012.


The fines against the CFMEU, handed down today by Justice Anthony Cavanough in the Supreme Court in Melbourne, constitute some of the heaviest penalties levied against a union


.The CFMEU was found to be in contempt for a series of blockades it instituted on the Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD and at two other Grocon sites.

via CFMEU fined $1.25m over Melbourne Grocon protests | The Australian.

Alain Bertaud: Cities as Labor Markets | Urbanization Project

Alain Bertaud, from the Marron Institute on Cities & the Urban Environment at New York University, has recently published a paper entitled “cities as labor markets” we thought you may be interested in:

Here’s the abstract:

The welfare of cities is dependent on their labor markets. The larger the market, the more innovative and productive the city, as long as labor markets do not fragment into smaller adjacent markets as they grow. Maintaining mobility is therefore essential to the economic viability of cities.

Maintaining mobility has two implications: first, managing a transport system that allows an efficient movement of labor and goods across metropolitan areas, and second, insuring that regulations or inadequate land supply do not prevent firms and households from settling in the area that will maximize their welfare. This implies also that firms and households should be able to change location with low transaction costs when their circumstances are changing. Considering cities primarily as labor markets have important operational implications for the management of cities, in particular in the way transport systems are developed and the way land markets are allowed to operate. The next few decades offer a unique opportunity to speed up progress by following these examples.

Read the full paper here.

Productivity Commission FWA Review Scrutinise Pay, Penalties, Conditions

Via the SMH:

The federal government’s sweeping review of Australia’s workplace laws will put penalty rates, pay and conditions, union militancy and flexibility under the microscope.

The inquiry means that all the elements of WorkChoices that people hated are back on the table, including individual contracts. 

A leaked draft of the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveals the inquiry will examine the act’s impact on unemployment and under-employment, productivity, business investment and the ability of the labour market to respond to changing economic conditions.

The number of working days lost to strike action, pressures on small business, employers’ flexibility to bargain with their employees on issues like working hours and the impact of red tape on business will be considered.

Click here to read the rest

Make business easier with non-union agreements

Alexander Philipatos, from the Centre for Independent Studies, has an opinion piece published in today’s Drum arguing for the removal of union vetos on new construction projects:

There are practical solutions the government can pursue to create a more workable framework.

An industrial relations framework should, as much as possible, encourage parties to work through issues themselves and come to an agreement. It should also strike a balance between workplace flexibility and employee representation. Current laws create delays, drive up costs and make local firms uncompetitive.

Removing union vetos on new projects would be a good place for the government to start. The Coalition should be bold and make it easier to do business in Australia by reintroducing non-union greenfields agreements.

While such changes do not address the numerous other problems inherent in the Fair Work Australia regime, they may nevertheless represent a starting place for the reform Australia desperately needs.

You can read the full article here.

Fair Work Act a Tax on Jobs

Extract from Editorial, The Australian, March 8 2014 (Emphasis added):

“Like Qantas, the nation is being held back by workplace laws which impose a high cost base on companies; in effect, the Fair Work Act is a tax on jobs. Restoring our international competitiveness and improving productivity will require a suite of reforms, some of which may prove to be disruptive in the short run. But as we learned in the 1980s and 90s, high-paying jobs and broad-based prosperity flow when governments unleash the forces of innovation and competition”.