Rogue union says $95 an hour not enough for workers

For work on new Victorian railway line

WORKERS on the regional rail link are set to earn $150,000 a year, but a union is heading to Fair Work Australia to fight for more pay.

Joint bidder AbiGroup and Thiess have agreed to pay Australian Workers' Union members up to $95.23 an hour for work on the $4.3 billion rail line, according to a copy of the agreement seen by the Herald Sun.

But the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have so far been locked out of negotiations with builders short-listed to work on dedicated VLine tracks between Southern Cross station and Werribee.

The CFMEU, fined $560,000 in June for an illegal blockade, will head to Fair Work Australia on Friday to fight to be included in the project and seek a more lucrative deal.

The Herald Sun understands builders preferred to work with the AWU because it was more reasonable in its demands for pay and conditions.

CFMEU secretary Bill Oliver confirmed the union was taking the dispute to Fair Work Australia. It was taking both the AWU and the contractors to the tribunal.

The AWU has signed a similar agreement with Fulton Hogan and John Holland and was expected to sign another deal next week with the final short-listed bidder Leighton Baulderstone JV.

All three consortiums are bidding to build the link between Deer Park and West Werribee.

AWU secretary Cesar Melhem, who brokered the deals, said it was at the "top end" of civil construction pay rates in Victoria. "The money is good. I'm happy with that," he said. "The average wage will be around $150,000. People might think that's a lot of money, but we are talking about a 56-hour week."

Mr Melhem declined to comment on the CFMEU's bid at Fair Work Australia.

Corey Hannett, chief executive of the Regional Rail Link Authority, said the contract for the Deer Park to West Werribee section of the project would be awarded early next year.


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