A motion expected to win support at the ALP state party conference this weekend will also see lead contractors on public projects held responsible for breaches throughout their supply chain and fines issued to employers over violations such as wage theft.
The motion is being put forward by the Transport Workers’ Union and other unions which are pushing to ensure accountability on the $600 billion annual federal, state and local government spend. The TWU will be pushing for similar motions at ALP National Conference and for its inclusion in NSW party policy.
“The communities’ tax dollars should be working for all taxpayers, not benefitting tax cheats, environmental vandals and corporations which engage in wage theft. There should be a fair playing field for employers which are good corporate citizens and which respect the community,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“This policy needs to be adopted at a federal level to ensure that the public money which is spent annually, amounting to 35% of our GDP, is working for us not against us. This is why we’ll be taking this policy right across the country and to the Federal ALP. The community has had a gutful of their tax dollars going to fund rip-off merchants. Employers vying for public contracts are not being tested over stolen superannuation, wage theft, environmental degradation and whether or not they are tax-avoiders. Quality government standards are not being carried out and this needs to change,” he added.
A report by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work shows the vast size of government spending. It outlines ways in which governments use this money to actively lower wages and standards, including through the Federal Government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission which prevents unions from seeking to restrict the use of casual, part-time and labour hire work that undermines wages and job security.
“The Federal Government’s ABCC suspended construction firm Hutchinson from bidding on government contracts because it allowed union signs to be displayed at a site and for intervening in a pay dispute. The Federal Government also spends up to $80 million on flights with overseas airlines such as Qatar and Etihad, companies backed by states which violate human rights, instead of supporting local jobs and fair standards by spending the money with Virgin and Qantas. There clearly needs to be a fairness test on how government money is spent,” Sheldon added.