ABCC cracks down on union logos

Construction companies may no longer be able to obtain federal government contracts if certain pro-union practices are performed, or union-affiliated symbols are displayed on clothing, equipment or worksites in general.

The update

The Australian Building and Construction Commission’s (ABCC) update to the freedom of association provisions in the Building Code came into effect on 30 January 2018, with an infringement of the revised, stricter provisions now resulting in companies being precluded from tendering for Commonwealth building work.

The previous Code stipulated that an infringement was constituted by a ‘significant’ display of union affiliated materials, however, the revised Code states that the presence of a Eureka flag or a single union logo, or sticker on a helmet can amount to a substantial infringement of the Code.

What constitutes an infringement of the revised freedom of association provisions?

Under the revised freedom of association provisions, code covered entities, (construction companies to which The Code applies) are subject to far stricter prohibitions regarding the display and performance of union-related materials and practices.

Under s 13 of The Code, code covered entities are prohibited from displaying signage that seeks to vilify or harass employees for their involvement or lack of involvement in industrial activities.

Code covered entities must also ensure company policies allow employees to freely:

  • become members of, or cease to be members of, industrial associations,
  • be represented by and participate in industrial associations and activities.

The ABCC went as far as publishing examples of slogans which amount to breaches of the new provisions, some of the offending phrases include “100% union”, “union site” and “no ticket, no start”.

Perhaps the most significant changes to the code are the rigorous prohibitions on the display of union-affiliated flags, most notably, the Eureka Stockade Flag, a symbol of the powerful CFMEU.

Further details of the changes introduced by the ABCC and which practices and materials to avoid displaying in your workplace, are available in the fact sheet published by the ABCC:

How the update will impact on Australian businesses?

Although there are yet to be any sanctions imposed on any code covered entity for failure to comply with The Code, the loss of a federal government contract as a result of displaying union-affiliated materials or using the pro-union tactics mentioned in the revised Code would be highly detrimental to a construction company’s prospects of getting ahead in such a competitive industry.

If you require further information on the changes introduced by the ABCC, or advice at any stage of the tender process, please do not hesitate to contact Michael Morrissey( or Morrissey Law & Advisory directly on (02) 8077 0668.

(This article was prepared by Michael Morrissey, Principal, with Patrick Ireland, Paralegal.)

Disclaimer: This publication by Morrissey Law & Advisory is for general information and commentary only and should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in relation to any matters or transactions that may arise in relation with communication.

2019-07-02T11:36:17+10:00March 15th, 2018|Commercial & Corporate Advisory|