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Builders Labourers Federation

Builders Labourers Federation

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The Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) is an Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 organisation which existed from 1911 until 1972, and from 1976 until 1986, when it was permanently deregistered in various Australian States
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

 by the federal
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 and some state government
State government
A state government is the government of a subnational entity in a federal form of government, which shares political power with the federal or national government. A state government may have some level of political autonomy, or be subject to the direct control of the federal government...

s of the time. This occurred in the wake of a Royal Commission
Royal Commission
In Commonwealth realms and other monarchies a Royal Commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue. They have been held in various countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia...

 into corruption by the Union. About the same time, BLF Federal Secretary, Norm Gallagher
Norm Gallagher
Norm Gallagher was a controversial Australian trade unionist, and Marxist-Leninist who led the militant Builders Labourers Federation as federal Secretary and as Victorian State Secretary....

 was gaoled for corrupt dealings after receiving bribes from building companies which he used to build a beach house

The Federation still exists in Queensland.

Social and economic justice

The BLF fought successful campaigns which became known as the green ban
Green ban
A green ban is a form of strike action, usually taken by a trade union or other organised labour group, which is conducted for environmentalist or conservationist purposes.-Background:...

s against development projects which it viewed as harmful to the built
Built environment
The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter and buildings to neighborhoods and cities that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply or energy networks.The built...

 and natural environment
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

 of Sydney. These campaigns included blocking plans to redevelop The Rocks
The Rocks, New South Wales
The Rocks is an urban locality, tourist precinct and historic area of Sydney's city centre, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, immediately north-west of the Sydney central business district...

 area, Kelly's Bush in Hunters Hill
Hunters Hill, New South Wales
Hunters Hill is a suburb in Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Hunters Hill is located 9 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre for the local government area of the Municipality of Hunter's Hill.Hunters Hill is situated on a...

 and Centennial Park
Centennial Park, New South Wales
Centennial Park is a large public, urban park that occupies 220 hectares in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Centennial Park is located 4 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the City of Randwick...

. The Green Bans are now commonly recognised as directly responsible for saving areas of Sydney with substantial heritage value.

They also took up other causes, such as Aboriginal rights, anti-war campaigns and support for pensioners. The BLF had a long standing programme on Radio 3CR
3CR is a community radio station that broadcasts on the AM band in Melbourne, Australia. The Community Radio Federation had their broadcasting licence approved on 10 October 1975, by the Minister for the Media, Dr Moss Cass. Test broadcasting begun on 1 May 1976, full operation began 3 July 1976...

, 'The Concrete Gang', which is now presented by the CFMEU
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and furnishing products, mining and energy production....

. One of the original announcers for the BLF was John Cummins
John Cummins (Union Organiser)
John Cummins was an Australian labour leader. From 1972 onwards, John Cummins was involved with the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Labourers Federation, better known as the B.L.F....


NSW Branch Intervention

The Federal Union under Norm Gallagher
Norm Gallagher
Norm Gallagher was a controversial Australian trade unionist, and Marxist-Leninist who led the militant Builders Labourers Federation as federal Secretary and as Victorian State Secretary....

 faced many protests initially when the Federal union intervened in the affairs of the N.S.W. branch of the union in the mid-seventies. Many of the democratic measures installed by the N.S.W. Branch leadership by Jack Mundey
Jack Mundey
Jack Mundey is a distinguished Australian union and environmental activist. He came to prominence during the 1970s for leading the New South Wales Builders' Labourers Federation in the famous Green Bans, whereby the BLF led a successful campaign to protect the built and natural environment of...

, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens and others were scrapped and many of the democratically imposed Green Bans were lifted. Officials of the N.S.W. Branch eventually urged members to join the imposed branch, but were themselves blacklisted from the industry by Federal Union officials. The Federal takeover of the N.S.W. Branch was instrumental in calling off many of the imposed Green Bans and the cancellation of the union's commitment to fighting for permanence in the building industry.

BLF in Queensland

The BLF currently exists in Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 as a State registered union (known as the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders' Labourers' Federation (Queensland Branch) Union of Employees). This branch is also transitionally registered under the Workplace Relations Act 1996
Workplace Relations Act 1996
The Workplace Relations Act 1996 is an Australian law passed by the Howard Government after coming into power in 1996. It replaced the previous Labor Government's Industrial Relations Act 1988. It started operation on 1 January 1997 and provided for the continuation of the federal award system...

. It is also a part of the Construction division of the CFMEU. Whilst the Queensland BLF was a part of the National BLF prior to the de-registration, it was not as radical or militant as the branches in Victoria and New South Wales were perceived to be.

Whilst the BLF is usually associated with the left of the political spectrum, the Queensland BLF has historically been aligned with the centre-right of the Australian Labor Party. The Queensland BLF is a member of the Labor Unity faction which is sometimes referred to as the Old Guard. The Labor Unity Faction often votes with the "right" faction (also known as the AWU or Forum faction) at State Labor Conferences.

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