Qld Premier Steven Miles signs sweetheart deal with construction unions

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Queensland’s third-term Labor government has inked astounding deals with the construction unions.

Under the state’s Best Practice Industry Conditions policy, workers get double time when it rains and an extra $1000 a week for working on a project 50km or more from the employer’s address.

“Government should be an employer of choice, and working on our projects should be one of the best jobs you can get,” Premier Steven Miles said on Tuesday.

Pay increases across the trades boost the pay packets 700-plus-tonne crane operators to $2394/week and fourth-year adult electrical apprentices to about $44/hour or $1585 a week.

Those wages are the first year of four successive 5 per cent pay increases across the board.

Stacked on top of the locked-in wage increases are the myriad loading and allowance payments, such as 300 per cent loading for working on and between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day or Good Friday and East Monday.

A “picnic day” on the first Monday of December will be observed; anyone who has to work on picnic day gets double time-and-a-half pay.

In the tumultuous wake of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s resignation in December, The Courier-Mail reported that Mr Miles ultimately got the nod following a deal between union powerbrokers.

Like all states and territories, Queensland businesses and agencies are duelling to get tradies on site for their projects.

In addition, the Queensland government is ensnared in rolling debate about what to build for the 2032 Olympics.

Despite demands from the public and private sectors, mother nature will undoubtedly play a hand in these new construction pay rates.

The new rules dictate when conditions reach 35C, or 29C and 75 per cent humidity, in South East Queensland, work should cease.

Employees required to work in the rain will be paid double “for all work performed in the rain and such payment will continue until they cease work”.

“Where employees are in the sheds because they have been rained off, or at starting time, morning tea, or lunch time, and it is raining, they shall not be required to go to work in a dry area or to be transferred to another site unless: the rain stops, a covered walkway has been provided, the sheds are under cover and the employees can get to the dry area without going through the rain; or adequate protection is provided,” the new deal states.

“We are paying what it costs to get the workers to deliver the projects that Queensland needs,” Mr Miles said.

Master Builders Queensland chief executive Paul Bidwell told The Courier-Mail that the criticism of the Best Practice Industry Conditions policy was not about shortcutting safety and undermining workers’ rights.

“It’s about ‘can we get on and build’?” he said.

“Because if we don’t, we are not going to deliver all these houses plus the other projects that are needed.”

Major projects run by private building firms in Queensland’s southeast have been the sites of multiple deaths in recent months.

Surveyor Brad Arnold, 56, was fatally crushed by a truck at Victoria Point near Brisbane in September.

“This tragic event serves as a potent reminder of the risks we face daily in the construction industry,” a fundraiser for Mr Arnold said.

Days later, apprentice Tyler Whitton, 17, fell through a hole at a Brisbane worksite and later died in hospital.

Daniel Sa’u, 29, died showing “signs of heat stress”, the CFMEU said, after leaving work at the major Cross River Rail project in Brisbane’s south in December.

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