Builders welcome proposal to restrict unions

MASTER Builders Australia has welcomed proposed changes that will see union powers axed on greenfields agreements along with their ability to gain entry on to worksites.

Greenfields agreements are often used in large resource or construction projects across the country.

It is one of the proposed changes to the Fair Work Act being considered in a bid to boost productivity and stop jobs being sent offshore.

The proposed changes were outlined in the Fair Work Amendment Bill was introduced into Federal Parliament this week.

Master Builders Australia CEO Wilhelm Harnisch said on Friday (Feb 28) the industry had long been concerned about the ability of union officials to use their position to unduly frustrate the making of greenfields agreements.

"The bill's proposed reforms to right of entry provisions to end the abuse by building union officials who seek to use right of entry as an industrial weapon is strongly supported," he said.

"The safety of all parties on building sites is too important to be used merely as an industrial tactic.

"The industry therefore welcomes the bill's provisions to more effectively balance the rights of employees and employers in right of entry rule."

Former ACTU president and Labor minister Martin Ferguson said on Friday (Feb 28) the Coalition's reforms did not go far enough.

Mr Furguson, during a speech in Perth, called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be "open minded" about the need for further reform to the Fair Work Act describing the changes he is proposing as "quite modest."

"A workplace relations system that drives investment to other countries is in nobody's interest, certainly not those union members and their families who will be bargaining themselves out of a future," he said.

The Business Council of Australia also welcomed the proposed workforce reforms claiming it will boost productivity which will result in a more productive and competitive economy.

Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said on Friday (Feb 28) outdated and inefficient regulation was "throttling" Australia's businesses.

"With job losses mounting in the economy and the immediate future very uncertain, the parliament has to face up to the fact that our restrictive workplace laws are slowing the capacity of businesses to respond to changing circumstances and are making job creation harder," she said.

"This bill is an important first step in reforming our workplace laws to be a better fit for a more productive and competitive economy, but more changes are needed to ensure a system that works for all workplaces and all workers."