Published: 23 Jan 2024

The CFMEU is calling on Queensland Premier Steven Miles to sort out the problems on the Cross River Rail project after workers today downed tools in response to wage theft and underpayment.

More than 250 tradies went on strike on Tuesday morning across several sites, fed up with not being paid the correct labour rates by Rocktown, a major subcontractor conducting structural works on the project.

For the past two years Rocktown has systemically underpaid skilled tradespeople and withheld industry-standard payments such as tool and tradesperson allowances.

The wage theft walkout is the latest industrial action on the Cross River Rail, after workers last week went on strike in response to the lead contractor’s refusal to implement an effective heat management plan.

CPB has continued to resist the workers’ demands, despite several recent heat-related hospitalisations and the death of a 29-year-old labour-hire worker.

Quotes attributable to CFMEU State Secretary Michael Ravbar:

“Over the last few years workers on the Cross River Rail have dodged safety hazards, run the gauntlet with bullying bosses and mourned colleagues that have been maimed or killed on the job.

“Just when we thought we’d seen it all, now workers have reported serious wage theft by a major subcontractor.

“The workers who walked off the job today are a United Nations – there were visa workers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Australian brothers and sisters.

“These visa workers are in a particularly vulnerable position, and we’ve heard reports of bosses standing over them with threats to rip up their visa papers unless they agree to work for substandard rates.

“Recently we saw the new transport minister Bart Mellish don the hard hat and high vis for a photo op at Albert Street station. The industrial action this morning began with workers at Albert Street, before spreading to Boggo Road, Woolloongabba and Roma Street stations and Mains Yard.

“It’s time for Mellish to stop cosplaying as a construction worker and actually speak to the men and women suffering on the Cross River Rail. And Premier Steven Miles must step in and take control of this slow-moving disaster.”