‘Unbelievable’: Labor accused of abandoning workers
Labor's push to scrap the construction watchdog, which also recovers workers' wages and entitlements, has been branded "unbelievable" in light of the party's traditional support for workers.
Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has backed federal Labor's calls to axe the Australian Building and Construction Commission, claiming it was a highly politicised body.
But Opposition industrial relations spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said it was unbelievable a Labor Government would want to abolish a body "that protects workers and businesses given its (Labor's) claim to protect workers' rights".
Since being re-established in December 2016, the ABCC has recovered $598,067 in wages and entitlements for 579 employees in Queensland.
The majority of these recoveries followed proactive audits, with many of the workers unaware they had been underpaid.
But Ms Grace hit back, saying the facts spoke for themselves.
"The Member for Kawana should acquaint himself with them," she said.
"And as revealed in Senate Estimates a year ago, the ABCC had spent $3.2 million of taxpayer funds over three years in prosecuting unions, union officials and workers but not prosecuted a single employer for sham contracting - a commonly-used tool for wage theft and worker exploitation.
"As I have said in parliament, the multimillion-dollar Heydon Royal Commission did not even recommend the reinstatement of the ABCC."
Mr Bleijie said, "Not only does the ABCC go after illegal union activity, but also stands up for workers' rights by clawing back wages and entitlements from builders."
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has vowed to axe the construction watchdog as part of Labor's industrial relations reform if elected.
Both Mr Albanese and Ms Grace have been unable to say who would prosecute should the commission be scrapped.
When asked last month who would prosecute, Mr Albanese said: "Who prosecutes when you break the law? The same people."
Originally published as 'Unbelievable': Labor accused of abandoning workers