Created Tue 28/08/2012, Last Updated Tue 28/08/2012

CFMEU members stand firm as Grollo sends in the cops

  • We will not step back on union safety reps

CFMEU members showed they will not easily be moved from their protest against Grocon outside the Myer Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD.

In an impressive show of discipline and strength, this morning the workers peacefully resisted charges by mounted police and the riot squad. During the confrontation, near the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Sts, police used capsicum spray and batons.

Mounted police were employed despite assurances from police commanders to the contrary. Given this, workers acted with admirable restraint, offering only passive resistance to the horses.

The violent police attack came at the request of Grocon boss Daniel Grollo, who provoked the current dispute with his refusal to honour an agreement given to the CFMEU in April that the company would respect the rights of union members.

Issues in the dispute

For some time the CFMEU has been calling on Grollo to respect basic rights that are observed on other Victorian construction sites. These are:

  • The right to wear union stickers and clothing
  • The right to be represented by recognised safety and union reps
  • The right to talk to your union organiser without interference
  • The right to put up a union poster in the lunch shed

For too long Grocon has denied workers these freedoms. To enforce his rules on an unhappy workforce, Daniel Grollo employs a team of management heavies led by a former nightclub bouncer.

The CFMEU has never accepted this bullying and intimidation and has made clear our opposition over a number of years. We thought we had solved the problem in April when Daniel Grollo shook hands with CFMEU leaders on a deal. This would have guaranteed workers on Grocon sites the same rights as all other construction workers.

Sadly, Grollo welshed on this deal leading to the current impasse.

Intimidation affecting safety

A quick look over the fence at the Emporium site shows the dangers of having workers intimidated out of raising safety issues.