Master Builders Australia (MBA) has called upon the Government to bring in more robust measures to tackle secondary boycotts in the building and construction industry.

In a submission to the Government’s Competition Policy Review, Richard Calver, Acting CEO MBA said secondary boycotts are a brutal industrial tactic used by building unions to inflict financial damage on builders and suppliers who do not comply with their demands.

According to Richard Calver, it is clearly not in the community’s interests for unions to assume the role of determining the commercial survival of enterprises. Secondary boycotts damage the economy and threaten livelihoods as well as dampen proper competition.

To ensure a more robust enforcement of anti-secondary boycott provisions, Master Builders is calling for the jurisdiction to be shared by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), with the ABCC acting when secondary boycotts occur in the building and construction industry.

The Cole Royal Commission had recommended this action after finding out that while the ACCC has jurisdiction in relation to secondary boycotts, there have been few instances where such actions have been pursued by the ACCC. Modification of the Bills currently before Parliament to restore the ABCC could be changed to reflect this position of increased jurisdiction.

Master Builders’ submission also calls for reform to tackle other aspects of competition, which are constrained by workplace laws. In particular, commercial law should be separated from workplace law and regulation to prevent independent contractors being covered by enterprise agreements.

Master Builders will make further submissions to the Competition Policy Review to highlight other areas of needed reform.