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Dear All,

The HR Nicholls Society has access to information about the workplace arrangements at the Victorian desalination plant construction that suggests they involve compulsory unionism and wages and conditions of employment that are very much higher (even) than awards.  A leading unionist involved is the infamous Craig Johnson, who has previously served a jail sentence. This is just one example of how Fair Work Australia is increasingly producing results that can only be described as both unfair and having no economic justification.

The following letter by HR Nicholls President, Adam Bisits, calls for an urgent inquiry into these arrangements by the Victorian Government and, particularly given the reported compulsory unionism, the Australian Building and Construction Commission. A separate letter has been sent requesting action by the latter. 

To date the media has focussed almost entirely on complaints by unions that the employment of strike breaker, Bruce Townsend, has involved an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The focus should have been (and still should be) on why the employment of a strike breaker was necessary. The answer is obvious and it is clear that, in reality, the unions are anxious to avoid any inquiry that might reveal the rorts under the enforced workplace arrangements. That should not be allowed to happen.

Des Moore
HR Nicholls Board Member

Trouble at plant
letters published in The Australian, 23 November 2010

Your assessment of the hiring of a strike-breaker to report and assess union behaviour in the construction of the Victorian desalination plant indicates that the Victorian government has made unwarranted concessions to union demands in order to ensure the completion of the plant within a certain time. You say that The Australian is aware of “allegations of serious rorting, costing many millions of dollars in a Public- Private Partnership that is likely to be an unnecessary cash and energy drain on the taxpayers and power stations of Victoria”.

This suggests union power used for corrupt ends and the complicity of some other party able to pass on the costs to the Victorian government.  The Victorian public have an interest in the impost for the desalination plant not including costs for corrupt ends.  The Victorian public’s interest  demands the need not only for an immediate inquiry by the Australian Building and Construction Commission on the allegations, but also an indication by the leaders of both major Victorian political parties that whoever wins next Saturday will also institute an inquiry covering more broadly the conditions under which the plant is being built.

Adam Bisits
President, HR Nicholls Society, Kew, Vic

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