Building worker Ark Tribe is to appear before the Magistrates Court in Adelaide today. He is charged with failing to appear to answer questions at a hearing of the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Anyone called to give evidence before the ABCC does not have the right to silence, and can be jailed for six months for refusing to testify.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy union says six Queensland building unions decided in May to take immediate industrial action if Mr Tribe is jailed for refusing to speak to the ABCC about a 2008 union meeting called to discuss safety issues. Last July the unions reaffirmed their decision to strike if Mr Tribe is jailed.
The ALP promised before the 2007 Federal Election, and again in 2009, to abolish the ABCC. However in February the Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, announced that a new Building Industry Inspectorate would have the same powers to force building workers to give evidence about union activity.