On 11,12, and 13 February, as Bob Carnegie faced trial, thousands of construction workers walked off the job to show Bob that he had their full support.
Bob is extremely grateful for that support.
However, the trial has not finished, not by a long way. On 2 April there are further submissions. Some time after that the court will give its verdict. Should Bob be found guilty, sentencing will follow a little time later again.
There is a very real possibility of Bob Carnegie being jailed for his support of the QCH workers.
All this started soon after 2 October 2012, when CFMEU and BLF members voted to return to work at the Queensland Children’s Hospital (QCH) construction site.
That was after Abigroup (part of the Lend Lease empire) finally agreed to scrap their non-union, John-Howard-era, Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) and replace it by a union agreement with a subcontractors’ clause guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.
That victory for construction workers did not come easily. The QCH workers went more than eight weeks without pay, and many workers suffered many hardships.
After the victory, working-class people who supported the QCH workers during the dispute are being hounded in the courts by Abigroup.
Bob Carnegie, who played a significant role during the dispute, was charged with 54 counts of criminal contempt of court, 36 hours after the CFMEU and BLF members decided to return to work.
This vicious and spiteful attempt by Abigroup to punish Bob Carnegie is a blatant attempt by corporate Australia to intimidate any community support for union workers involved in struggle.
Since initially being charged, Bob Carnegie has had to face court four times.
If Abigroup gets a guilty verdict and a heavy sentence on the contempt charge, then they will be encouraged to pursue aggressively other court proceedings they have already started, suing both Bob Carnegie and the unions for damages over the dispute. That case will be heard after the contempt case.
It could potentially lead to damages and costs of many millions of dollars being awarded against the unions. It could set a precedent so that even in disputes, such as QCH, where the bosses finally conceded to workers’ demands, those bosses can use the threat of huge damages to deter unions from pursuing those demands.
We realise, as does Bob, that 2 April falls in the middle of the Easter break for construction workers. Bob hopes that unionised construction workers will enjoy the break with their loved ones.
However, there are many things we all can do to make it known that we view the attack on Bob Carnegie was an attack on all of use: “touch one, touch all”.
The following motion could be moved at union, work, site, or shipboard meetings.
“This meeting of union men and women calls upon the ACTU and respective state organisations, and our own union, to fully support a campaign of industrial and political agitation against Lend Lease (who own Abigroup) to demand it drops its vindictive and spiteful attack on Bob Carnegie, a community activist”.
Motions should be forwarded to ACTU President Ged Kearney at ACTU, Level 6/365 Queen Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000.