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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 1977


Senator TEAGUE —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware of the Builders Labourers Federation's log of claims circulated in South Australia to employers and contractors in the construction industry?


Senator Foreman —Ambit.


Senator TEAGUE —This was circulated with a letter of demand dated 11 October 1984 claiming, for example, wage and related payments of $1,450 for a 30-hour week, plus, amongst other things, a $30,000 mortality fund for each worker, and so on. Does he agree that this outrageous 39-point document, even if it is an ambit claim, is totally against industrial reality and is the grossest breach of the prices and incomes accord? Does he agree that the BLF's log of claims is a gross breach of the recent specific undertakings of the BLF to the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to the Federal Government and to the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Finally, in the light of this log of claims and because the House of Representatives is not sitting and the Government has been deterred from introducing legislation against the BLF indicated by Mr Willis a fortnight ago, will the Minister now take direct action under section 143A of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to cancel the BLF's registration to protect the construction industry, not least in South Australia, from outrageous claims, threats and disruptions?


Senator BUTTON —I am aware of the Builders Labourers Federation's log of claims served in South Australia because Senator Teague was kind enough to give me a copy of it. I would probably not otherwise have been aware of it. If the demands in the log of claims which has been served by the Builders Labourers Federation were in any sense acceded to they would appropriately be described as outrageous . I think that over many decades of the history of the industrial system in this country that description could have been applied to numerous logs of claims which have been served by trade unions as ambit claims.

Senator Teague asked me whether I regarded the claims as being totally contrary to industrial reality. My answer to that question is yes. He asked whether I regarded them as a breach of the undertaking given in settlement of the building trades dispute. My answer to that question is no, because there is no reason why any union cannot serve a log of claims. If the union took action to insist on the conditions which it sought in its log of claims, yes, I would regard that as outrageous and contrary to the provisions of the accord.

In regard to the last part of the question in which I was asked whether action would be taken by the Government under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to deregister the Builders Labourers Federation, the answer to that question is no, not on the basis of the log of claims, because we still happen to live in a country where anybody can write to anybody else-that is all a log of claims involves-and make any demands which that person wishes. If these demands were acceded to that would mean industrial anarchy and disaster. This Government will not tolerate that from the Builders Labourers Federation or from anybody else.