CIMIC disregards workers’ rights in massive underpayments scandal

Published: 3 Mar 2022

CIMIC disregards workers’ rights in massive underpayments scandal

News that Spanish-owned multinational construction giant CIMIC is accused of underpaying workers in its Middle East operations more than $500 million, leaving people stranded and at risk demonstrates this company’s shocking disregard for workers’ rights.

“This is CIMIC’s record, a long and callous history of disregard for workers’ rights,” said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

“The stories of workers who the company has abandoned in Qatar and elsewhere reported in Nine Newspapers today are a disgrace.”

“Workers stranded in labour camps, afraid to leave due to expired visas, unable to return home because they have no money, and reports of attempted suicides, all reveal the stark human toll of CIMIC’s behaviour.”

“Workers have been waiting up to a year to be paid and CIMIC has repeatedly ignored their pleas for their rights to be respected. People are sick and living in conditions that are described as meeting legal definitions of ‘modern slavery’. The company is now under criminal investigation for breaches of Qatari law.”

“This is a company that seems completely content to maximise its profits off the back of human misery.”

“Only strong union action in Australia has stopped CIMIC from treating workers with such complete contempt in this country.”

“CIMIC, formerly Leighton Holdings, is one of the biggest construction companies operating in Australia and has been the lead on numerous projects including Brisbane’s Cross River Rail, Melbourne’s Westgate Tunnel, and Sydney’s WestConnex motorway.”

“CIMIC has a track record of screwing taxpayers over on big infrastructure projects, with cost blowouts and project delays the norm.”

“The company also cynically tried to pocket more than $20 million in JobKeeper payments during the pandemic despite recording $620 million in profits, before being forced to hand it back following community outrage.”

“CIMIC’s disgusting treatment of the workers in Qatar and contempt for their rights shows the depths to which the company will sink to deliver fat profits to shareholders.”