Bob Carnegie faces Court

Hundreds of union protestors stop traffic in Brisbane Monday in support of Bob Carnegie who faces charges over strike action taken at the site of the new Children's Hospital. The strikes which began in August last year were over Abigroup’s use of subcontractors, who can hire tradespeople at a lower rate of pay.

"All we want is that those who do the same work get the same rates of pay,’’ Mr Carnegie said at the time.

The strikes, described by Mr Carnegie as ‘‘community protests’’, reportedly cost the construction company up to $600,000 a day.

CONSTRUCTION giant Abigroup will pursue 18 contempt charges against veteran unionist Bob Carnegie stemming from industrial action at a $1.4 billion Brisbane work site.

About 500 building union members - carrying flags, blowing whistles and chanting - marched on the property developer's Brisbane headquarters today.

They were protesting against legal proceedings brought by Abigroup, a Lend Lease subsidiary, against Mr Carnegie, who organised an unauthorised nine-week work stoppage at one of the group's building sites last year.

Following the march, legal representatives for Abigroup told a federal magistrate they would continue to pursue 18 of 52 original counts of contempt of court against the unionist.

Jim Murdoch, SC, for Abigroup, said nine counts related to attendance within 100m of a site, five regarding organising persons for a picket, three of abusive language and one relating to alleged threats against an employee.

Mr Carnegie will fight Abigroup's legal action.

Earlier, about 500 members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and Builders Labourers Federation, dressed in orange and yellow work shirts, marched from the Federal Court through the central business district chanting “hands off Bob” and “Abigroup and Lend Lease scum”.

CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar says Abigroup has also brought proceedings against 15 other unionists, who could face fines of up to $15 million as well as prison sentences.

“I don't get what's in it for Lend Lease and Abigroup,” he said.

“It's unjust, but we'll fight it.

“It's real David versus Goliath stuff.”

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer said protests were likely to continue if Mr Carnegie was found guilty of any charges.

“If Bob Carnegie is fined one cent or more we will continue this struggle,” he said.

“If he is jailed we will organise much more than a simple get-together in front of Lend Lease's office.”