The massive wage would apply to jobs on regional construction projects under minimum conditions being considered by the Labor Government.
The Government is trialling minimum requirements for major state-funded projects, similar to a Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s industry agreement.
It will force builders to ensure subcontractors apply the rates, but builders claim the move will drive up costs by at least 30 per cent.
They also say it will put principal contractors at risk of breaching workplace laws on adverse action and coercion in relation to subcontractors.
The requirements would apply to projects worth more than $100 million, the first understood to be the $130 million expansion of the Cairns Convention Centre.
The project’s 122 pages of minimum conditions, sent out to tenderers in October, include five per cent annual pay increases, requirements to pay weekend hours at overtime rates of 200 per cent and 12 per cent superannuation contributions, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Under the plan carpenters would earn $198,000 a year on a 46-hour week and traffic controllers about $178,000, according to calculations from the Master Builders Association.
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MBA Queensland chief executive Grant Galvin attacked the policy as “Orwellian”.
“They’re not minimum conditions – they’re maximum conditions,” he told AFR.
“The fact that the state government would even trial a policy which ensures that the most expensive and restrictive work practices in Australia are applied to all major government jobs across the state, is beyond comprehension.”
Mr Galvin said that money represented less the government had to spend on teachers, nurses or other public infrastructure.
“We have strongly requested that they review this policy approach in the knowledge that these conditions don’t improve quality, safety or productivity,” he said.
“They just increase costs, particularly for regional areas and undermine the government’s ‘buy local’ policy.”
Queensland Major Contractors Association chief executive John Davies said the minimum conditions were 75 per cent higher than current market rates for civil construction.
The policy could result in breaches of the Fair Work Act, which could see employers banned from federally funded building work.
CFMEU Queensland secretary Michael Ravbar argued that the minimum conditions were “nothing like” the union’s agreement.
He said the government was trying to ensure that taxpayer money filtered down to the workers.
He said traffic controllers wouldn’t earn $180,000 a year because they “were lucky to get permanent employment for three to four weeks”.
Mr Ravbar said the move would encourage major projects into regional Queensland following a downturn.