A man has been arrested at a union rally in Perth as protestors voiced their anger at work on a rail project linking the airport to the city.
Police said the protestor was arrested outside the Chamber of Commerce building after he assaulted an officer.
The man shouted complaints as he was being led away by police, saying the officer called him an abusive name.
There was a heavy police presence at the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) rally, with dozens of officers surrounding about 200 members of various unions.
CFMEU assistant national secretary Dave Noonan addressed the crowd, reflecting on the Federal Court’s decision to cut penalty rates for some hospitality and retail workers.
The CFMEU’s Dave Noonan criticised moves to cut penalty rates for some workers. (ABC News: David Weber)
“How can we have a situation where some of the lowest paid workers in our community have their living standards attacked by the body which is supposed to be there to defend and protect their standards?” he said.
“Wages across the economy are stagnant.
“Economists — right wing economists — are telling the Government that one of the reasons the economy is struggling in this country is because wages are stagnant.”
About 200 union members rallied outside the Chamber of Commerce building in Perth. (ABC News: David Weber)
The rally was called to raise issues the CFMEU says exist on the Forrestfield-Airport Link project, where the union does not have coverage.
Mr Noonan claimed workers on the project were on low wages.
“We’ve got yet another major infrastructure project in Western Australia given to a multinational company which is taking the opportunity to screw down the wages and conditions of workers,” he said.
“Salini, the Italian multinational who the Barnett government awarded the contract to, have brought workers to this country on temporary work visas because they say they couldn’t get Australians who know how to build tunnels.
“I don’t know if they’re heard of the Snowy Mountains scheme, but we’ve actually been building tunnels in this country for a long time.”
Mr Noonan said the economy did not need downward pressure on wages.
The CFMEU suggested Salini was paying workers $1,000 per week less than what was paid to those who worked on the Leighton-Kumagai joint venture city rail project in Perth in 2005.