11 August 20153 Day strike follows CFMEU official allegedly inciting workers to flout safety policy

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Auimatagi & Ors

Allegations as outlined in Fair Work Building & Construction’s (FWBC) statement of claim, these may vary over the course of the proceeding.

Background

It was a safety policy of the head-contractor that workers at the site should wear long trousers and long sleeved tops. This was known as the ‘Two Longs’ policy.

Site

The University of Newcastle Student Accomodation project, Ring Road, Callaghan, Newcastle, New South Wales

16 January 2014

1.    FWBC alleges that at approximately 7.45am in the crib huts at the site, CFMEU official Pomare Auimatagi addressed workers and said “Others will tell you that you’re using long sleeves for UV protection but you should have the choice”. “What are we going to do about it? Do we wear shorts or short sleeves? Who is wanting the choice of wearing shorts and short sleeves?” “Ok guys it’s up to you. We’ve done it at Barangaroo and Tamworth. I’m suggesting that you come to work in short sleeves and “make a stand”. Who’s up to do that? We need a vote. Raise your hands. Right, when are we going to do it? Is it Friday or Monday morning?” “Righto lads that’s 81 out of 82”. “Right it’s Friday”.

2.    FWBC alleges that at approximately 8.20am Mr Auimatagi said to the project manager “If any worker is removed from the site then the whole site will stop work and return to the crib rooms”.

3.    FWBC further alleges that at approximately 8.30 am, Mr Auimatagi said to the safety manager “If you ask one guy to leave we will all go. Take one out, we’re all out”.

4.    At a Health and Safety Committee meeting at approximately 10am, Mr Auimatagi allegedly said “Take one out, we all go” and “touch one, touch all”.

5.    At approximately 12pm the project manager was addressing workers at a toolbox meeting outside the site office and reminded them of the requirement to wear long trousers and long sleeves.

6.    FWBC alleges that Mr Auimatagi interjected and said “The boys have spoken. They want shorts. They’ll be wearing them tomorrow.” “If you touch one, you touch all”.

17 January 2014

7.    FWBC alleges that a number of workers attended the site wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts,

8.    At approximately 7.40am, a scaffolding worker who was wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt was approached by the project manager who told the worker not to come back to work until he was wearing Two Longs (long sleeved top and trousers)

9.    FWBC alleges that a few minutes after this a large number of the workers on the site stopped work and did not return to work on 17 January.

10.  FWBC further alleges that again on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 a number of workers attended the site but did not work for some or all of the day.

Contraventions

11.  FWBC alleges that the CFMEU, the CFMEU (NSW Branch), and Mr Auimatagi each contravened sections 340 and 343 the Fair Work Act

Maximum penalties

The maximum penalties available to the court in this case are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation, uncluding a union.

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