Can't find what your looking for? Visit our News Archive to view all of our previous stories.
Militant unions are undermining the building industry and putting at risk major infrastructure projects planned across the country, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu says.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and building company Grocon have called a ceasefire in their 16-day dispute, agreeing to hold talks, with the union lifting its blockade of Melbourne's Emporium site.
The CFMEU has warned that the action may resume if negotiations break down, although Grocon CEO Daniel Grollo maintains the blockade is over "for good".
Mr Baillieu said the CFMEU's blockade of the site must end and the government, which has joined Grocon in seeking contempt of court rulings against union officials, would continue its legal action against the union.
"You've trashed the furniture and now it's time to pay the bill," he told an Infrastructure Partnerships Australia conference in Melbourne on Friday.
"Having innocent parties being forced to negotiate their way out of illegal and thuggish and threatening behaviour is a form of extortion."
CFMEU Victorian secretary Bill Oliver denied the union had threatened Grocon employees.
"We haven't done any threatening or abusing," Mr Oliver told reporters.
He said the industry was rife with intimidation, and he had received two death threats on Thursday, but he had shrugged off the emails.
With the CFMEU saying there is nothing stopping it from resuming its campaign should talks with Grocon break down, Mr Baillieu said the union's attitude was a risk to projects.
"There is a risk that all sorts of projects won't get off the ground because of the CFMEU's attitude," Mr Baillieu told reporters.
"The attitude of the CFMEU leadership is growing costs, diminishing a reputation and undermining the industry, and that puts at risk all projects, not only in Victoria but right across Australia.
"They don't get it, Australians are sick of it, Victorians are sick of it."
Master Builders Australia deputy executive director Radley de Silva also said the CFMEU's actions could lead to delays in current and future major infrastructure projects, calling for a review of national laws to prevent a repeat of the Grocon dispute.
"Projects such as the Comprehensive Cancer Centre, school upgrades and transport projects like the Melbourne Metro rail line and East West tunnel are all under threat if the federal government does not act now," he said in a statement.
Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten rejected suggestions from the Liberal party that Labor's "soft" IR reforms were partly to blame for the Grocon dispute, saying the matters involved in the upheaval were covered by state laws.
Pressed on why industrial action had surged nationally over the past year, Mr Shorten said about 60 per cent of the time lost was in the education and health care sectors, where the employers are mostly conservative state governments.
Victorian opposition industrial relations spokesman Tim Pallas said there was a genuine concern about escalating construction costs.
"But I don't think those issues should be exclusively laid at the foot of labour costs," Mr Pallas told reporters.
"We have seen a substantial increase in the costs of raw materials and commodities in the construction industry and of course the issues of supply and demand when it comes to the labour market are very real."
Based on information provided by and with the permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority (2013) trading as Landgate.