Building workers strike today in push for 36-hour week

Source: AAP | Published: Monday February 7, 2:59 AM

Building industry workers across Victoria will walk off the job today as part of their fight for a 36-hour week, despite a court injunction and a warning their strike will cost $23 million.

The strike, in support of the unions' campaign for a shorter week and a 24 per cent pay rise, is to be repeated every four weeks by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The CFMEU action potentially affects an estimated 35,000 workers.

But the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday issued an injunction against some workers participating in the strike.

While the action directly involves only workers from four major companies - Balderstone Hornibrook, Multiplex, Theiss and Walter Constructions - a legal source last night said it could have much wider repercussions.

He said the injunction directly affected 500 workers, but the thousands of other employees who joined them in on-site strike meetings 'don't have the protection they think they have'.

Meanwhile, Master Builders' Association of Victoria (MBAV) executive director Brian Welch has called for today's strike to be a one-off.

Welch yesterday said the action would cost $23 million in lost time and accused the unions of jeopardising investment in major projects in Victoria because of the threat of long-term industrial instability.

"The industry is prepared to give workers a 15 per cent pay rise, well above the cost of living," he said.

Martin Kingham, CFMEU state secretary, has said the MBAV had refused the chance to avert strike action by signing an interim deal while negotiations on pay and hours took place.

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