Construction union, regulator keep wage thieves names to themselves

Australia’s highest profile construction union and its frequent opponent the industry watchdog know the names of companies that underpaid employees but neither are releasing them to the public.

Australian Building and Construction Commission head Stephen McBurney wrote to Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Construction Union national construction secretary Dave Noonan in early February to ask for details of the underpaid wages it had recovered on behalf of workers, which the union had said totalled $60 million over the last five years.

CFMMEU members at a rally in Adelaide last year. The union has declined to give the Fair Work Commission the details of employers who had underpaid their workers.Credit:AAP

Mr McBurney told a Senate estimates hearing his agency wanted the information so that it could take employers who had “deliberately or systemically underpaid employees” to court and target its audits more efficiently. “We are serious about recovering wages,” Mr McBurney said.

Mr Noonan slammed the ABCC in his reply, which was tabled in estimates along with Mr McBurney’s letter, alleging the commission was failing to address wage theft and declined to share the union’s information.


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