BLF - DOCUMENTS - QANTAS HOLE, ELIZABETH STREET, SYDNEY, 1970


QANTAS hole, Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 1970

Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Transcript, No. 2067 of 1970, pp. 56-7.

Hickey from the ASC&J gave evidence about the conditions on site. A sewer was leaking from one side of the excavation; no sun got down to the 30m level, which was seven stories below the street. There were no lifts to get them up or down. Because the block was wedge-shaped block, men were working cramped into corners.

One of the claims that we have made is the type of skilled tradesmen we want on this job. For instance, we are at a stage now where we are doing form work which is normally done by what we would call tradesmen, as probably people who have come into the trade through various channels but have never served an apprenticeship. We are required to do that kind of work at the moment plus when the building does take its rise we will be asked to do first-class fixing which we are supposed to be qualified to do. Already Dillinghams have put off this site people they have thought would not come up to this standard. That is one of the claims. (56)

Another claim is that three of our members who have been employed on this project have not been able to negotiate the descent and ascent of this particular site, henceforth, they had to leave the site. That means that although there was work available on the site for them they were not able in actual fact to work on the site. (56)

Now, your honour, I am speaking facts when I say that no man on that site has been paid the full amount of special rates that he thought he was entitled to at any one stage.  [The site foreman] has authorised the payment of these rates and I am sure that he thinks they have been rightly paid but in the time I have been on the site I have never as yet been paid the full amount of money I thought I was entitled to. We have continually had to badger and pester foremen and leading hands to have our correct payments made on this site. (56)

In all our meetings with commissioners and judges nobody has yet visited the site to see what kind of conditions exists there. We are expected as carpenters to allow these tremendous panels to swing over our heads and they are made of plywood and steel. Some of these are in the region of 12 square feet, some 15 x 12, and they are a pretty deadly kind of instrument to be hanging over your head. We are in the position that we have to stand under these things as they are coming across us and fix them in position. The crane cannot let go these panels until such time as we have fixed them, so in actual fact we are depending on the crane driverís accuracy to hold the panel tight so that we can get it fixed before he can let go. There have been a couple of narrow escapes on the job. Fortunately, the management is concerned about the safety on the job and have been very much with it as regards our point with the meetings and having site inspections. This is not to say you do not get the panic merchant on the job. We have come across this on the site where it is a little bit pushy at times but not all the time, I would say.

These are some of the things I wanted to put to your Honour as a representative of the union.


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