Union investigating jail labour hire company

FUTURE SCENES: An artists impression of what the new Grafton jail will look like.
FUTURE SCENES: An artists impression of what the new Grafton jail will look like. INFRASTRUCTURE NSW

A LABOUR hire firm supplying workers to a contractor at the new Grafton jail project has breached personal protection equipment regulations, a union has claimed.

The North Coast official of the Construction, Forestry and Mining Union, Dean Rielly, said the firm, Dmac Personnel Pty Ltd, made employees contracted to the site supply equipment that the employer, by law, must supply.

He said if workers did not supply the equipment, $400 was deducted from their wages, to cover its cost.

Mr Rielly produced a Dmac Personnel induction document requiring each labourer to possess safety equipment including a hard hat, ear muffs/plugs, trousers, gloves, safety glasses, safety boots, visibility vest, masks and sunscreen.

Under the State Government's Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017, "The person conducting a business or undertaking who directs the carrying out of work must provide the personal protective equipment to workers at the workplace, unless the personal protective equipment has been provided by another person conducting a business or undertaking."

He said late last year seven workers employed by Dmac Personnel had walked off the job, claiming anomalies in their pay.

The anomalies included pay deductions for PPE and late payment of wages.

Mr Rielly said CFMEU officers were going through the company's books to ensure their members were being paid correctly and their work conditions met.

"I believe the Electrical Trades Union and the plumbers' union might also be interested in this situation," Mr Rielly said.

The director of Dmac Personnel, Irwin Appo, dismissed the union's claims and accused them of bullying his company.

He said the induction document the CFMEU cited was not the correct one for workers at the jail project.

"It covers workers who might be working less than two days with us at another site," he said.

"The jail project is a much longer project than that, so workers could be expecting to be working longer than that."

But Mr Appo said the workers his company contracted were guaranteed just four hours of work when they signed on.

He said Dmac Personnel had supplied all the necessary safety equipment, as it was legally required to do, and had only attempted to recover the cost of the equipment when workers left the company's employment.

"They signed a document that said if they didn't return the PPE gear they could be charged for it," Mr Appo said.

He said there had been an issue over late payment, but it had been blown out of proportion.

"A few people were blowing up that they hadn't been paid on time," Mr Appo said. "We pay every Thursday. It was 8am and they were checking their bank accounts and saying they hadn't been paid. By 12 o'clock the money was in their accounts."

Mr Appo was critical of the way the CFMEU handled the dispute.

"We're a small Aboriginal company trying to get work for our people," he said.

"We're supplying between 50 and 60 workers to a client.

"We would have preferred them to approach us and have a quiet conversation, rather than go through this process. But now it's happening, we are making sure we will work with the union."

Topics:  cfmeu dmac personnel irwin appo labour hire companies new grafton jail unions

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