Extract from an article by Paul Karp
Paul Karp reporting on The McKell Institute’s ‘Unfounded and Unfair’ report for The Guardian.
Exclusive: Thinktank the McKell Institute describes federal building code attached to bill as ‘highly prescriptive red tape’
The federal building code attached to the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill would decrease apprentices on building projects and increase workers on 457 temporary skilled worker visas, the McKell Institute has said.
The progressive thinkthank has produced an analysis of the building code reframing it as “highly prescriptive red tape” that could increase strikes because existing agreements must be renegotiated.
The code, if passed, would stipulate that construction companies cannot bid for government work unless they exclude a wide range of otherwise legal clauses from industrial deals.
The report noted that at the end of 2015 there were 278,600 apprentices and trainees in training, 11.8% fewer than at the end of 2014.
It said “the only instrument that guarantees the number of apprentices to a workforce can be found in suitable enterprise agreements that mandate safety and apprenticeship ratios”, a practice the code would ban.
The report argues that since the cost of training apprentices outweighs their output for the first two years, the building code will encourage employers to source skilled labour from overseas instead.
Companies that choose to train Australian workers “are at a competitive disadvantage compared to those who avail themselves of the 457 [skilled temporary work visa] worker”, it said.
The code would apply to enterprise agreements struck after 24 April 2014, which gives it retrospective effect because it bars builders from government work based on deals struck before the code was in place.
The McKell report said that, in order to comply with the code, some building companies would need to renegotiate their workplace deals which “could lead to further and significant industrial disputation”.
SOURCE: Paul Karp, “Building code in ABCC bill would decrease apprentices and increase strikes”, McKell Institute, 01 NOv 2017
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