Stadium builders protest over pay
DISGRUNTLED workers from the North Queensland Stadium angered at being left worst off than their colleagues by a State Government policy have marched in protest.
Nearly 30 workers from a few Townsville construction companies, including NQ REO, marched down Flinders St to the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union office on Tuesday.
The workers are demanding equal pay to those of their counterparts who have benefited from the implementation of a State Government policy.
The State Government implemented its "Best Practice Principles" policy on May 17, 2018, part way through the construction of the stadium.
Under the policy, all companies who signed on to work on the stadium project on or after May 17, 2018 were entitled to higher wages.
This means that companies that laid the groundwork of the stadium from when construction began in August 2017, were being paid about 30 per cent less than those workers who came after the implementation of the policy.
Owner of NQ REO Michael de Nettis said his workers were "cut up" about the wage disparity, particularly when they had to work side-by-side colleagues who were being paid more.
The workers gathered at the Washii Construction office on Flinders St and had a few beers before marching toward the union office waving placards and calling for back pay.
The CFMMEU office was closed on Tuesday due to staff training.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said if the NQ Reo employees "have an issue with their wages, they have an issue with their boss".
However, Mr de Nettis said the NQ REO contract was never priced to absorb a 30 per cent pay increase, whereas companies who had signed contracts at the stadium after May 17 had been paid by the State Government through Watpac to cover the extra wages.
Covering the extra wages cost the State Government $40 million.
Mr de Nettis, while addressing the group outside the CFMMEU office, called on the Federal Government to look into the State Government's use of the May 17 date and also the issues facing the stadium.
Breaking: Construction workers from the North Queensland Stadium are marching to the CFMMEU offices on Flinders St. They are angry about the State Govts implementation of a policy that has caused wage disparity on site. @tsv_bulletin #qldpol pic.twitter.com/UJwkNokKA9— Madura McCormack (@MaduraMcCormack) September 10, 2019
Federal MP for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the best way to fix the problem was to vote out the State Government at the next election.
"This comes across my desk quite regularly," he said.
"The Queensland Government should be ashamed and embarrassed about this."
Townsville MP Scott Stewart said it was "significant" for non-union members to march against the union and he would be passing on the sentiment of the workers to Mr de Brenni.
CFMMEU North Queensland organiser Kane Lowth said the union was itself frustrated at the mishandling of the BPP policy due to bureaucratic inefficiencies and "the greed" of managing contractor Watpac.
The union last week held a protest outside Townsville's state parliament on this issue.
Opposition North Queensland spokesman Dale Last said the march was a "significant event" that highlighted the prevalence of issues at the stadium site.
"The Minister has said it's time for everyone to move on, obviously they're not prepared to move along.
"Instead of dealing with it the government has chosen to bury their head in the sand."
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Premier had barely acknowledged the issue on why two workers doing the same job on the same site were being paid different amounts.