$3,500 penalty imposed for freedom of association breach

The Federal Magistrates Court at Melbourne has ordered CFMEU member and Occupational Health and Safety representative Robert Mates to pay penalties of $3,500 for refusing to induct subcontractors onto a building site because they were not members of the union.

The conduct took place at the 81 Lorimer Street, Docklands site on 19 October and 22 November 2010.

FWBC Chief Executive Leigh Johns said this court outcome was another reminder to union representatives that freedom of association is a long-standing Australian right.

“We will vigorously defend building workers’ right to decide if they want to join a union or not, and to not be discriminated against for their decision.

“Union representatives can espouse the benefits of joining a union, but it is unlawful for them to discriminate against subcontractors who choose not to.”

Mr Mates admitted to the two contraventions of s346 of the Fair Work Act 2009 in an agreed statement of facts lodged with the court.

He also agreed to pay penalties of $1,750 for each contravention. Federal Magistrate O’Sullivan endorsed the penalties.

FWBC Chief Executive Leigh Johns urged subcontractors to report any allegations of freedom of association breaches to FWBC.

“FWBC is open for business and ready to assist all building industry participants to get on with the job of making their workplaces more fair and productive.”

For further information, see FWBC’s Freedom of Association in the Building and Construction Industry fact sheet or call our hotline 1800 003 338.