Mick de Brenni presser
Mick de Brenni presser

Stadium wage stoush ‘not my responsibility’: Minister

PUBLIC Works Minister Mick de Brenni has ruled out fixing a wage dispute dividing workers at the North Queensland Stadium because it is not his responsibility, despite being the politician who implemented the policy.

Mr de Brenni, during Budget Estimates yesterday, said the State Government made "no apology" for giving workers at the North Queensland Stadium the "same sorts of pay and conditions" that workers in Brisbane receive.

However, the State Government's implementation of the "Best Practice Principles" policy part-way through the construction of the stadium has caused significant rifts in the workforce.

Only companies that signed contracts for work at the stadium on or after May 17, 2018, are able to access the $40 million State Government cash pool to pay their workers according to the policy.

 

 

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni in Townsville to speak about the progress of the North Queensland Stadium.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni in Townsville to speak about the progress of the North Queensland Stadium.

This means Townsville companies that built the foundations of the stadium, some of whom have workers who remain on site, are being paid about 30 per cent less than their colleagues. Workers have told the Townsville Bulletin this disparity in wages has caused serious tensions between tradesmen on site.

Asked if he had considered fixing this issue, Mr de Brenni said he did not "set the rates of pay" on any project, even though he was responsible for implementing the policy.

"It is not a matter for me, in my responsibility as Minister of Housing and Public Works, or any of my other portfolio areas, to make the employment decisions (for) any subcontractors," he said.

"They make that of their own volition."

Master Builders Queensland workplace relations manager Martin Belfield said the "rules of competition" meant contractors bidding for stadium work before May 17, 2018, at those rates of pay would probably have missed out.

It was also revealed during the estimates hearing that so far Watpac had approved $12 million worth of variations to 15 contracts in order to pay workers Best Practice Principle wages. Fourteen tenders or contracts have also been repriced at a value of $3 million.

This means, of the $40 million set aside to cover the cost of increased wages, $25 million remains. The stadium budget stands at $293.5 million.