The defence campaign for Bob Carnegie, community protest organiser at the August-
October 2012 Queensland Children's Hospital construction site dispute in Brisbane, is getting underway.
In the dispute, the main contractor, Abigroup, eventually conceded the workers' demand for union-negotiated Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with a clause ensuring that workers get the rate for the job, whichever one of the many subcontractors they are employed by.
Abigroup also agreed not to pursue legal proceedings for damages against a number of workers on the site. But they are suing Bob Carnegie on 54 separate counts, with thousands of pages of legal documentation. The charges could lead to fines of up to $400,000 and maybe a jail sentence.
Of course Abigroup suffered big financial losses during the dispute: $300,000 a day, they said. Those losses would best have been avoided by negotiating and agreeing to the workers' demand much earlier, rather than stonewalling for nine weeks as Abigroup did.
Obviously those losses cannot be recouped by legal proceedings against a person like Bob Carnegie who has no financial resources other than what an ordinary worker has.
The proceedings against Bob Carnegie can only be seen as a spiteful attempt to intimidate every community activist who may in future wish to assist workers in obtaining justice.
This is a cause which concerns every working-class organisation.
• See here for petition, model motion, letter, etc.
• Campaign secretary: Ian Curr — firstname.lastname@example.org +61407687016