By Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary
Before Cbus was born in 1984 income security in retirement wasn’t part of life for workers in the building and construction industry
Superannuation was something reserved for executives and workers in the public sector. Tradies and labourers in the construction industry were expected to retire on the pension, along with any savings they had managed to hold onto through the ups and downs of a boom and bust industry.
Cbus wasn’t given as a gift by employers; unions argued for super to be part of the award, but the employers refused to even consider the claim. It took industrial action and strikes to win Cbus.
The media and politicians scoffed at the idea that unions could put together a fund for construction workers to retire with dignity.
But that’s exactly what we did, and what’s more when the fund was up and running employers were invited to participate as board members to ensure that the whole industry was supportive of Cbus.
In a high risk industry like construction, sadly, some workers don’t make it through to retirement. Workers wanted to know that if a member died or couldn’t work through total and permanent disability that they or their families got much needed support.
They’d seen too many families left destitute and without hope when tragedy struck.
Insurance was not an afterthought or an add on for Cbus members. It was always an essential and integral part of the fund.
Cbus insurance has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to bereaved families and to seriously sick and injured workers.
We owe it to today’s members, to those who fought to start the fund and to the Cbus members of the future.
Today we have some of the best Death and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) protection available for workers in the industries which our members work.
But the stapling measure which is part of the Your Super, Your Future legislation passed by the Morrison Government in June, means that some workers in construction may not be covered by the Death and TPD insurance they need in a hazardous industry.
The Federal Government’s superannuation changes risks people entering construction without the tailored insurance they need.
This includes offering tailored Death and TPD insurance that give workers and their families certainty and protection if they are injured or killed at work. Workers should be confident that the insurance they have through their super fund is appropriate for the work they do and covers them if they are injured on the job.
The Hayne Royal Commission exposed the greed and rorts of those super funds owned by the big four banks, and the funds who put corporate bonuses and shareholder payouts ahead of superannuants.
Cbus by contrast got a clean bill of health.
The banks were so embarrassed that most are selling their super companies.
Your Future Your Super law means that construction workers may be tied to a super fund that has inferior insurance offerings with exclusions, making it worthless to them.
Some want to make super voluntary and others don’t want to see an increase to compulsory SG contributions. We don’t want to go back to the bad old days of poverty in retirement.
Cbus has stood up for its members’ interests and for the Cbus insurance model. And will continue to do so.