20 January 2017 $57,500 penalty for CFMEU’s 'Armageddon' threat at Royal Adelaide Hospital

The Federal Court has handed down penalties totalling $57,500 to the CFMEU and two of its bosses who threatened “Armageddon” and national industrial action in a dispute at the Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

SA State Secretary Aaron Cartledge and former Assistant Secretary Michael McDermott were penalised $3,750 each for threatening to organise industrial action at the construction site.

The court also ordered the union to pay a total penalty of $50,000.

The threats were made with the intention to deter the head contractor from enforcing a Fair Work Commission order requiring employees on the project not to take industrial action.

At a meeting on the site in November 2013 Mr McDermott threatened there would be “Armageddon” if the head contractor took steps to enforce the order.

Mr Cartledge further threatened that the contractor’s other projects would be targeted, warning “we will take it national”.

The Court found that the purpose of the threats was to coerce the head contractor to not exercise its legitimate workplace right to enforce the Fair Work Commission order.

In handing down today’s penalties, Justice Besanko took into account the CFMEU’s “significant record of non-compliance” with workplace laws, particular those provisions relating to coercion.

Justice Besanko also found the officials’ actions to be deliberate and noted “[t]here is no suggestion of contrition or corrective actions by Mr Cartledge or Mr McDermott”.

ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said it was disappointing that anyone in the building and construction industry should be subjected to threats and intimidation.

“This decision means $1,126,600 in penalties have been imposed by the Federal Court against the CFMEU and its representatives for proven unlawful conduct that occurred across Adelaide in a nine-month period,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Unfortunately, the conduct we’ve seen in this case is not isolated, but instead reflects a widespread contempt for the rule of law that pervades the industry.”

For more information see the legal case summary

PDF icon Media release: $57,500 penalty for CFMEU’s “Armageddon” threat at Royal Adelaide Hospital (PDF 365KB)