Electrical Trades Union strike at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH). State Organiser Dan Bessell on site.
Electrical Trades Union strike at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH). State Organiser Dan Bessell on site. Warren Lynam

HOSPITAL SITE STRIKE: Agreement "all but reached"

UPDATE 3PM: TRADIES at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital site are continuing to defy the Fair Work Commission, risking a $20,000 fine each, to stand in support of striking Electrical Trade Union workers.

The Daily visited the hospital site earlier and there was little evidence of work in progress.

ETU members guarded each entrance to the once busy construction site where 1000 people would normally be at work.

ETU State Organiser Dan Bessell said only a handful of "scabs" were at working as other tradies refused to go back to work amidst the stand-off.

But ETU Assistant State Secretary Peter Ong said the union had "all but reached an agreement" which would resolve the impasse.


UPDATE 12PM: AN ELECTRICAL Trades Union spokesman says an agreement is "all but reached" at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital construction site, but work will not resume until clarity can be given on Building Code compliance issues.


Protected action undertaken by 160 ETU members is ongoing today, after EBA negotiations between the union and electrical contractor Nilsen have again stalled.

ETU assistant state secretary Peter Ong said an agreement had been "all but reached" aside from some clauses in the contract which would not comply with the proposed Building Code.

Mr Ong said they needed the Turnbull Government to provide some certainty as to whether the Code, which did not pass through Parliament, would be applied retrospectively back to July 2014.

As it stands, non-compliance with the proposed Code means contractors cannot tender for government work.

"Everything has been agreed to by both parties except the wording around the Code," Mr Ong said.  

"If Michaelia Cash (Liberal Senator and Minister for Employment) can come out and say the Code will not retrospectively impact on agreements then all of the contractors could sign off on the agreement tomorrow.

"The deal would be done.  

"But the protected industrial action these Members are taking will continue while they pursue an outcome to the negotiations."  

The Daily understands CFMEU members on the site have also not crossed picket lines today in support of their colleagues in the ETU.  

The Daily is attempting to make contact with Nilsen, the CFMEU and both the Prime Minister and Minister for Employment's offices for an update.


UPDATE 9AM: WORKERS are still off the job at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital construction site. 

The Daily understands workers have again not crossed the picket line at the SCUH construction site on Tuesday morning.

EARLIER: STRIKE action continued at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on Monday with some workers refusing to cross picket lines in solidarity for Electrical Trades Union members locked in a battle with contractor Nilsen.

About 100 workers and ETU members employed by electrical contractor Nilsen are involved in an EBA dispute between the union and the contractor which saw work grind to a halt on the SCUH construction site on Monday.

The Daily understands CFMEU members also refused to cross the picket lines on Monday, meaning the site was essentially at a standstill.

"Pretty much all the boys stayed out today," one ETU member said late this afternoon.

"It's frustrating, we're hoping it can be sorted. We'll know tomorrow (hopefully) and we're hopeful something's been put in place."

The Fair Work Commission on Friday ordered all non-ETU member employees contracted on the site back to work, however that order was ignored in a show of support.

ONGOING: Strike action continued at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on Monday.
ONGOING: Strike action continued at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on Monday. Contributed

The Daily also understands a meeting was held between the ETU and Nilsen on Monday with SCUH developers Lendlease understood to have also been at the meeting, possibly acting as mediators as work was undertaken to try and break the deadlock.

The dispute centres around the backdated Building Code which will be applied to EBAs if the Turnbull Government is re-elected on July 2.

The Code, which failed to pass Federal Parliament, looks to enforce changes to EBAs and would be backdated to 2014, with the ETU saying that at present, if a contractor's agreement is not-compliant with the proposed Code, they are unable to tender for government work.

It's believed negotiations between the ETU and Nilsen over a new EBA broke down last week, resulting in about 100 labour hire employees being sacked.

That coupled with the Turnbull Government's position on reinstating the Australian Building Corruption Commission is believed to be behind the position taken by the ETU.

On Friday the National Electrical and Communications Association Queensland chapter expressed its disappointment at the industrial action taking place, arguing the pay rise offered by Nilsen of 5% per year for the next three years was "generous".

The NECA also argued the ETU was making workers' jobs more insecure by taking the position it had and in doing so, ruling out some contractors for tendering for government work.

Local ETU and CFMEU reps were unable to be contacted late today for comment, but the Daily will seek comment again on Tuesday and update the story as the situation unfolds.