Monday, October 22, 2007

Joe McDonald should not be on trial!

Western Australian CFMEU official Joe McDonald faced court yesterday in Perth over charges that he had trespassed by entering building sites on union business.

These charges are a consequence of the draconian provisions introduced by the Howard Government when it established the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a group of anti-union zealots who have terrified the families of building workers and intimidated building companies from allowing their workers to fly the Eureka flag on site.

The ABCC can and does enter sites at will, can and does threaten companies that they will not be able to bid for Federal construction contracts if the Eureka flag is flown.

Workers want their elected union officials to come onto sites and into workplaces to service their needs, to disseminate information, to check on health and safety concerns.
They don't want a gang of suited thugs who threaten to impose fines of up to $28,000 on any worker who takes industrial action.
In a class society, the question of rights is a class question. The bosses create rights for themselves, and the workers do likewise. There are no divinely ordained rights. Rights exist when groups of like-minded people collectively create their own rights, and defend them from attack.
A worker should have the right to access, on the job and in work time, a representative who is well-versed in the relevant practices, provisions and legislation relating to, for example, occupational health and safety.
And, if he or she has been ripped off like the Chinese workers in the post below, then there shoud be provision for the worker representatives to enter the site to seek resolution of the issue with the employer.
Joe McDonald was not breaking a law that any worker would recognise. He was upholding the rights of his members to have their interests serviced by their elected officials.
He should not be on trial.
From the point of view of Australia's workers, he has been exemplary in his conduct.
Would that there were more like him!
(A copy of a report from the capitalist press in Western Australia is attached for reference.)

Unionist warned over trespassing
22nd October 2007, 15:15 WST

Trade union official Joe McDonald was warned he was trespassing on a Perth building site before police were called, his Perth trial has been told.

Mr McDonald, the West Australian assistant secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, today went on trial in the Perth Magistrates’ Court for trespassing.

It is the first of six trials Mr McDonald faces for unlawfully entering Perth building sites between February 14 and April 24, 2007, after having his right of entry permit for building sites revoked by the Federal Court.

His trial was told Doric site manager Jim Kemp warned McDonald he was trespassing at the Lakeside Shopping Centre site in Joondalup, in Perth’s northern suburbs, after he entered through an exit gate, on February 19 this year.

Mr McDonald said Mr Kemp, who he had known for about 16 years, was “under a bit of pressure” during his visit.

“He used to be a member of the union, now he works for one of the worst companies,” Mr McDonald said.

“I said to him ‘Jimmy, what makes a man turn dog?’.”

Mr McDonald said he could not recall Mr Kemp telling him he was trespassing.

But he said Mr Kemp told him “you’re going to get me in the shit if you stay”.

Mr Kemp told the court the two remained friends.

Mr McDonald testified he noticed safety breaches when he visited the site to speak to a sub-contractor over problems with superannuation and long service payments.

McDonald’s lawyer Gavin MacLean said his client had entered the work site to talk to a subcontractor over payments to CFMEU members.

Mr McLean said McDonald therefore had a lawful excuse for being on the site and argued it was not a criminal offence.

“It’s the type of trespass that should be dealt with by ... civil sanctions,” Mr Maclean said.

But prosecutor Barry King said McDonald had been clearly told to leave the site.

“He simply had no authority to be there,” Mr King said.

Magistrate Joe Randazzo will hand down his judgment this Thursday, October 25.


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