Construction grinds to a halt as union demands $240k salary 

By Jarrod
3 Min Read

Hundreds of Brisbane tradies have walked off the job as a major construction union ramps up demands for steep pay rises.

Members of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime Employees Union (CFMEU) are walking off the tools at seven sites across the city following tense negotiations between the union and contractor CPB Contractors for a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Dozens of workers were seen outside the Exhibition Station Cross River Rail site by 7am, with some holding signs that read ‘CFMEU here for the blue’ and ‘never cross a picket line’, according to reports by the Courier Mail. 

It’s understood CFMEU has demanded some workers receive a pay rise of about $2,000 a week and an extra 20 rostered days off each year.

Sources familiar with the union’s demands told The Courier Mail that under the proposal for Cross River Rail, an entry-level worker would receive a $15,000 pay increase, seeing them earn more than a whopping $240,000 each year.

CFMEU said on Tuesday it’s been months since the union served the contractor with the workers’ log of claims and CPB Contractors has “refused to budge on key issues”.

In a statement, CFMEU Assistant State Secretary Jade Ingham said that after “slaving under a substandard Australian Workers’ Union agreement” for more than four years, Cross River Railworkers say “enough is enough”.

“The seeds of this dispute were planted back in 2019, when the Queensland Labor Government did a dirty deal with the AWU that denied Cross River Rail workers a say in their Enterprise Bargaining Agreement,” he said.

“Since then, workers have suffered under CPB’s woeful mismanagement and corporate bastardry. Workers are fed up with CPB’s grubby divide-and-rule tactics, and they have had enough of seeing fellow workers maimed and killed on the job.”

Mr Ingham said this summer alone, more than 30 workers have been hospitalised, and one labour-hire worker has died of heat stress.

“This democratic action is about giving the workers a voice and raising conditions on Queensland’s biggest infrastructure project to industry standard,” he added.

“Civil construction workers are not second-class citizens, and for the first time they have an opportunity to have a say in their future.

“The CFMEU will back them all the way.”

The halt in construction comes only weeks after former Transport Minister Mark Bailey revealed a the Cross River Rail budget had blownout by $960 million last year, bringing the total project cost up to $6.3 billion.

A CPB spokesman said the company had “regularly met with relevant union representatives from AWU and CFMEU to negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement.” 

“While these meetings were productive, an agreement has not yet been reached between the parties,” he added.

The protected industrial action is expected to take place over the next three days, ending midnight on Friday, May 3rd.

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.