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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2793

(Question No. 813)

Senator Archer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice, on 5 April 1984:

(1) What is the award wage for builders' labourers working at the new Parliament House construction site.

(2) Are cash allowances added to this figure; if so, what are the items covered and what are the amounts payable in each case.

(3) What other benefits, concessions or entitlements of a non-cash nature are provided.

(4) Were the terms and conditions of employment determined and agreed to before the job commenced in all cases; if not, what categories of employment were not covered by such agreement.

(5) What conditions have been changed since then as would make those conditions inappropriate.

(6) Does the wage paid to on-site building employees include an allowance known as 'follow the job', or in other words an allowance for severance; if so, how much does this represent in cash per year on the wages paid.

(7) How many employees on strike, or stood down, have taken other employment.

(8) How long is it estimated to take to find enough employees to restore a full labour force to the new Parliament House site after settlement of the current dispute.

(9) Should the Government pay compensation by way of reimbursement of site allowance, and will it undertake to pay those employees whose contracts are for periods of less than 133 weeks.

Senator Gietzelt —The Minister for Territories and Local Government has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The award wage for a builders labourer on the new Parliament House site is $334.86 for a 38 hour week.

(2) From 1 December 1983, a site allowance of $1.50 per hour worked is payable, which includes all special allowances of general application.

(3) Protective clothing and safety footwear and sunglasses are supplied to employees in accordance with the Australian Capital Territory awards.

(4) The terms and conditions of employment were determined and agreed before each major phase of the job commenced. An agreement covering the earthworks period was arbitrated in early 1981. This was replaced by a new arbitrated agreement in November 1981 to cover a two year building construction period and the agreement was renegotiated to cover the period between December 1983 and the end of the project.

(5) There have been no significant changes to conditions during the currency of each of the agreements.

(6) Unlike some State awards, Australian Capital Territory awards do not specify a 'follow the job' allowance. However, there is a parity allowance in the Australian Capital Territory award of $41.24 per week to cover those items identified in the State Awards.

(7) It is not possible to quantify the number of new Parliament House construction employees who were able to obtain other employment during the period of the dispute. However, the general indication is that a substantial number were able to obtain alternative employment.

(8) There is no satisfactory way to accurately determine how quickly the original work force will return to the site or how quickly the work force can be increased to the number required to properly undertake the planned increase in construction activity. However, it is expected to take several weeks.

(9) It is assumed the question relates to employers not employees. The current policy, established by the previous Government, is that site allowances are not reimbursed for contracts of less than 130 weeks duration. It is therefore not possible to give an undertaking to reimburse contractors at this stage.