11 August 20153 day strike follows CFMEU organiser allegedly inciting workers to flout safety policy

Fair Work Building and Construction has launched Federal Court proceedings against the CFMEU and one of its organisers after he allegedly encouraged workers at a site in NSW to defy a safety policy which had been implemented by the site head-contractor.

FWBC is alleging that CFMEU organiser Pomare Auimatagi encouraged workers at a construction site at the University of Newcastle to attend work the next day wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt. As a safety policy the site head-contractor had made it mandatory for all workers to wear long trousers and a long sleeved shirt.

Mr Auimatagi allegedly addressed workers in the crib huts at the site “Others will tell you that you’re using long sleeves for UV protection but you should have the choice.” “…I’m suggesting that you come to work 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 morning or Monday morning?” “Right it’s Friday”. The CFMEU organiser allegedly then warned the project manager “If any worker is removed from the site then the whole site will stop work and return to the crib rooms”.

During a health and safety committee meeting later in the day, Mr Auimatagi allegedly said “Take one out, we all go,” and “touch one, touch all”.

The following morning a number of workers attended the site wearing shorts and short sleeved shirts. In response, the project manager ordered a worker not to return to the site until he was wearing appropriate safety clothing. Up to 50 workers allegedly then downed their tools and refused to do any work on the project for the rest of the day.

A number of workers allegedly also did not report to work at the site on both the Monday and Tuesday morning.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “safety policies are put in place for a reason, to keep the workers safe.”

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual, and $51,000 for a union per breach.

A directions hearing date is yet to be scheduled.

More information can be found in the media backgrounder.

PDF icon Media Release - 3 day strike follows CFMEU organiser allegedly inciting workers to flout safety policy.pdf