14 July 2015

Canberra witnesses claim they were forced to pay building union to stay in business

| Canfan
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Evidence from the first day of the Trade Union Royal Commission (Monday 13 July 2015) supports claims that the ACT CFMEU allegedly extracts payments from contractors as a price of doing business, according to Master Builders ACT.

From Master Builders ACT’s media release:

“Today’s evidence at the Royal Commission was that building contractors paid large amounts of money to a union official, in exchange for competitive advantages apparently offered by the union,” Master Builders ACT’s Director of Industrial Relations, John Nikolic, said after the Commission’s first day of hearings in Canberra.

“Master Builders hopes that the Royal Commission hearings in Canberra are the start of a clean-up of the building industry in Canberra, which has been afflicted by unlawful market manipulation for too long, as union-preferred contractors (those who have ‘paid the price’) allegedly obtain preferential treatment in winning work” he said.

At the first day of hearings of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, the Commission’s first witness Elias Taleb, a formwork subcontractor, said he was paid the union dues of each of his employees, signed membership applications in their place and make cash payments totalling $135,000 to ex-CFMEU union official Fihi Kivalu between 2012 and 2013, in order to win work.

Another witness, a concreter, stated that he had been told by Mr Kivalu that “the more he poured, the more he had to pay.”

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption will hold three weeks of public hearings into the ACT CFMEU.

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