Workplace bullying is a possibility in all workplaces but more so in the blue collar construction industry than elsewhere, it seems.
The front page report in The Australian confirms the blue-collar bully stereotype that the former conservative government tried to gain political mileage from, most noticeably in political advertising, but also in political rhetoric over the years.
The article reports threatening language and physical imposition towards inspectors from the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). There was verbal abuse and insults to both the male and female inspectors. John Lloyd, head of the ABCC, is quoted as writing in a letter to the building company Brookfield Multiplex, that his inspectors:
“”feared for their safety and believed they would be assaulted if they had left the vehicle”.
The article also says that John Lloyd believes the incident, being investigated by the police, to be
“the worst abuse encountered by his inspectors in 1400 building site visits.”
The ABCC has draconian powers and there is, obviously, tension between the ABCC and construction workers however there is no excuse for workers breaching their OHS obligations to visitors to their worksite, regardless of the organisation the visitors represent.
The industry and unions have tried to eradicate it for safety and political reasons but on some sites it persists. The Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union says that no CFMEU employee or officer was involved in the incident. That is good news but it was very likely that many of the participants were CFMEU members. The union should remind its members that the ABCC inspectors have the right to carry on their work tasks in a safe and healthy manner even if their presence is objectionable.
The construction workers involved in this incident are doing their case against the ABCC no good at all by their threatening behaviour. Indeed it allows the Labor government the chance to use similar rhetoric to that used by the Liberal Party – construction industry bullies and union thugs. Let’s hear the CFMEU discipline their members on their OHS obligations to others.