TRANSCRIPT: Interview: Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia.
Borals’s $4 million settlement with the CFEMU over the union’s black bans. ABC NewsRadio, 19/9/2015
Laura Tchilinguirian (Presenter): Well the powerful building union the CFMEU has been ordered to pay a hefty $4 million in damages to the building material supplier Boral for interfering in the supply of products to a Melbourne building site.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is trying to put a brave face on the settlement saying that Boral was claiming much more and that the matter was politically motivated.
Boral says the union may have to pay up to $9 million in legal costs. The deal means the Victorian Branch of the union won’t just have to Boral large sums but agree not to interfere in the company’s business for three years.
For more on this I’m joined by Master Builders Australia CEO Wilhelm Harnisch.
Master Builders has welcomed the decision Mr Harnisch?
Wilhelm Harnisch (CEO Master Builders Australia): Indeed. No amount of spin by the CFMEU can disguise the fact that the CFMEU has been caught out. Their tactics of trying to put a lawfully operating business out of business have been exposed and they are paying the price.
Laura Tchilinguirian: What were the union’s reasons for banning Boral at the time? I understand it was in a during the union’s dispute with Grocon?
Wilhelm Harnisch: Indeed. What the community needs to be aware of is that the CFMEU did not ban Boral out of some high minded principle of protecting workers.
What happened is that the union lost its dispute with Grocon and its black banning of Boral was merely another attempt to impose its will on the construction industry banning contractors from using concrete delivered by Boral.
Secondary boycotts are totally unlawful and what this settlement really shows is the CFMEU has been caught out and caught out badly.
Laura Tchilinguirian: The union is seeking to justify itself by claiming that Boral has actually lost more than it has gained here?
Wilhlem Harnisch: There is no doubt that Boral has suffered economic damage and this should never have been allowed to occur which is why Master Builders supported recommendations in the Harper Review that penalties for unions using black bans be higher and why we also consistently call for the return of the Australian Building and Construction industry (ABCC) which could have intervened early against the union’s unconscionable tactics.
But the fact remains that the CFMEU cannot spin themselves out of this. They have been caught out and this settlement shows they are paying the price.
This settlement that the CFMEU have been forced to sign also gives credence to the evidence heard by the Royal Commission of similar tactics being employed by the union in Canberra and Sydney.
Laura Tchilinguirian: So do you think this sends a message to the CFMEU and other building industry unions?
Wilhelm Harnisch: Well it should send the union a very clear message but as we can see from the CFMEU’s comments they are in denial and are trying to turn the story against Boral.
What the ACTU and other unions should be doing is chastise the CFMEU for trashing the brand of unions.
That’s what this settlement really shows, that the CFMEU by its thuggery and intimidation in seeking to force its will on the building and construction industry is trashing the brand of unions.
The community really deserves better from the CFMEU.