New workplace guidelines in force for Victorian construction industry

Victoria’s tough new building and construction industry guidelines, which came into operation on Sunday, will drive productivity and improve work practices across the industry, Minister for Finance Robert Clark said today.

“The new guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry will help to deliver value for money for the State’s infrastructure projects, eliminate unlawful activity on construction sites and promote a safe and productive culture across the industry.

“This will help to make vital infrastructure projects more affordable, leading to greater investment and employment opportunities for Victorians.”

Mr Clark said the Victorian Coalition Government acted to introduce these guidelines in the wake of Commonwealth government moving to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Industry Commissioner and water down national guidelines.

Mr Clark said the Construction Code Compliance Unit (CCCU) in the Department of Treasury and Finance led by the Director, Mr Nigel Hadgkiss, would monitor compliance with the new Victorian guidelines.

Tenderers who fail to comply with the guidelines will be liable to consequences include being restricted in or excluded from being awarded future public sector contracts in Victoria.

“We are very pleased to have Mr Hadgkiss head up this unit following his time as Deputy Commissioner at the Office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner.

“The Coalition Government is leading by example by promoting and requiring appropriate workplace arrangements and practices when it selects firms under the tenders for government contracts.

“The guidelines will require tenderers for public sector work in Victoria to commit to compliance with the law, productivity, safety and freedom of association.

“Unlike the National Code of Practice, Victoria will require that tenderers for major projects submit detailed plans which identify their approach to various matters including workplace safety, dispute resolution, response to industrial action, right of entry, management of subcontractors and communication and consultation with the workforce,” Mr Clark said.

The guidelines will:
– apply to all on-site public building and construction work undertaken in Victoria;
– be binding on all contractors in relation to their future privately funded work;
–  prohibit parties entering into sham contracting arrangements or arrangements designed to avoid strike pay, right of entry and freedom of association obligations;
–  prohibit coercion or pressure to make over-award payments;
–  require tenderers for major projects to submit detailed plans which identify their approach to various matters including workplace safety, dispute resolution, management of subcontractors;
–  require contractors to take all reasonable steps to bring any unlawful industrial action to an end, including by pursuing legal action where possible;
–  identify practices that are inconsistent with freedom of association and require contractors to adopt policies to promote the right to join or not join a union;
–  only allow establishment of project agreements in exceptional circumstances; and
–  consolidate public building and construction procurement policy for the Victorian Government in DTF to streamline these functions alongside compliance monitoring.

Mr Clark said the guidelines would also give DTF the authority to refer all breaches of the law to the appropriate agencies, and co-ordinate compliance and enforcement activity with appropriate agencies.