Australian construction boss calls for US-style racketeering laws

Australian concrete maker Boral is calling for US-style racketeering laws to counter the influence of the CFMEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) in the construction industry.

Mike Kane, Boral chief executive, made his recommendation in evidence to the Trade Union Royal Commission in Melbourne today. 

Boral has been the subject of an 18 month labour dispute in the state of Victoria because of its dealings with developer Grocon.

Kane said: "This is a criminal conspiracy attempt to interfere in the marketplace and to stop our ability to supply our customers. It’s blackmail and it’s been effective. We have complained to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, we have complained to every federal and state government agency that would listen to us and as we sit here today in the Melbourne CBD it’s in full force and effect."

The CFMEU began its boycott of Boral at the end of 2012 because it refused to abide by a union ban on Melbourne developer Grocon.

In February, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Companies ran a documentary alleging that figures in the Australian underworld had won contracts on private and government projects, including Victoria’s desalination plant and the $5.3bn Barangaroo harbour redevelopment in Sydney.

It also alleged that labour hire companies had paid members of the underworld and union officials to arrange contracts for building projects, even though some of those companies had become infamous for failing to pay workers their full entitlements.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a labour hire company run by Sydney and Melbourne crime figures won CFMEU endorsement despite owing union members more than A$1m in unpaid wages and entitlements.

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