CFMEU boss John Setka defends six-figure salaries for traffic controllers on Victoria’s Big Build construction sites

A union boss has defended the monster pay packets given to traffic controllers working on Victoria’s major projects, with some now earning $206,000 a year.

According to industry whistleblowers, the six-figure wage is being paid to CFMEU affiliated traffic controllers across Victoria’s Big Build which encompasses all road and rail infrastructure projects currently underway across the state.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Unions defend monster pay packets given to traffic controllers.

The inflated wages have increased traffic management costs by $380m, the whistleblowers, who spoke to the Herald Sun, claim.

The annual salary of $206,000 is almost three times the salary of a registered nurse in Victoria, who earns on average between of $75,000 to $85,000 a year.

A Victoria Police constable also earns about $75,000 a year on average, while the base salary for a graduate teacher at a government school begins at $77,000.

A Queensland real estate agent who works as a traffic controller at a construction site “on and off” as a “side gig” recently shared his experience in the job on TikTok calling it a “sort of bludge job”.

“I make about $35 an hour. You literally get paid to stand here and apart from that, there’s definitely worse gigs out there,” the tradie told Getahead, an Australian jobseekers app.

“I’m a real estate agent by trade, so I do traffic controlling to pay bills.

“I’d say for a bludge job that you don’t have to care about, this is definitely it.”

CFMEU boss John Setka.
CFMEU boss John Setka. Credit: 7NEWS

CFMEU boss John Setka said the whistleblowers complaining about the six-figure salary were from smaller construction companies.

“Some of these companies who are the whistleblowers, I mean the slaves that built the pyramids probably got a better deal than some of these workers at smaller companies … so I mean they’re always going to whinge,” he said.

“Our job is to protect our members and look after their interests and their welfare, and we don’t apologise for that.”

Liberal leader John Pesutto said there were “serious questions” that needed to be answered by the state government.

Labor Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the exorbitant traffic controller wages had nothing to do with them.

“We don’t set their wages,” he said.

“What we do is we engage builders to do the work on behalf of the government and the taxpayer.”

The whistleblowers also made claims regarding intimidation and stand over tactics on CFMEU sites.

Setka denied any corruption.

“We have heard about stand over tactics, as I’ve said before, since Jesus wore shorts,” he said.

“No one has ever proved anything.”

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