One of the nation's most militant unions has dropped its pay demands in an upcoming wage deal in an apparent concession that its members have been priced out of the post-boom market.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's draft enterprise bargaining agreement, which would take effect from the end of the year if endorsed by members and employers, reduces the cost of employing a construction worker by about 20 per cent.
It involves a wage rate reduction of 9.5 per cent for trades and between 8 per cent and 11 per cent for labourers.
Some fares and allowances, superannuation payments and the union training levy have also been reduced.
Master Builders Association industrial relations spokesman Kim Richardson welcomed the change but said it did not go far enough and called for productivity improvements.
"It would be a fair conclusion that the CFMEU leadership recognise that its members are overpriced compared to what the market is prepared to pay," he said.
"Whether this version can assist it claw back some of the lost ground in the local commercial market remains to be seen."
Mr Richardson said the draft was still about 5 per cent higher than non-union deals.
The agreement would mostly cover the city construction market, which has contracted since the boom.
The union claims some structural adjustments were needed because of market contraction.