Australia’s biggest construction union will carry out safety audits on Lend Lease sites across the nation, as the developer pushes for the restoration of the national building watchdog.
In the wake of last month’s fires at the Barangaroo development site in Sydney, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) announced on Tuesday it was investigating safety procedures for workers.
CFMEU national construction secretary Dave Noonan said the union had a responsibility to ensure the safety of workers following evidence of poor safety practices at Lend Lease sites.
A Lend Lease crane collapsed during a fire at the University of Technology Sydney at Ultimo in late 2012 while one of last month’s blazes at Barangaroo forced the evacuation of about 2500 workers.
“Safety is Lend Lease’s number one priority. We strongly refute the claims the CFMEU is making and we understand their discomfort at our support for the return of the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission) and the upcoming royal commission,” Lend Lease said in a statement.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott in January said there may be a need to bring back the Howard-era ABCC due to allegations of widespread corruption and criminal activity by union officials in the building industry.
The CFMEU was hit with an “unprecedented” $1.25 million fine on Monday for illegally blocking workers from Melbourne building sites.
The union was fined and ordered to pay costs for ignoring court orders that outlawed the blockades at Grocon’s Emporium site.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Anthony Cavanough said the hefty fine would do justice to the blatant defiance of the court.
The CFMEU has maintained its conflict with Grocon was over safety issues.
“We cannot leave the safety of our members to chance and that’s why we have taken the decision to audit every Lend Lease site,” Mr Noonan said in a statement.