'Calculated and co-ordinated campaign' costs QLD unions $119k in FWBC case

The Federal Court at Brisbane today handed down judgment in an FWBC case, ordering the CFMEU and CEPU to pay penalties totaling $119,000 for what the judge called a ‘calculated and co-ordinated campaign’ against construction company, Watpac.

Justice Collier endorsed penalties previously agreed to between the parties - $99,000 for the CFMEU and $20,000 for the CEPU. The unions admitted that their officials encouraged workers to strike on three Watpac sites on 9 and 10 November 2010 – the Translation Research Institute (TRI) Project at Annerley, the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) Centre Project at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and the Carrara Stadium Refurbishment and Extension Project.

FWBC Director Val Gostencnik said the action was taken in an attempt to coerce Watpac to sign an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) with the unions and only employ subcontractors who had a union agreement.

“This is the third judgment of an FWBC case in as many months in which the courts have come down hard on unions for targeted industrial campaigns against construction companies,” Mr Gostencnik said.

“The courts have dealt unions a $299,000 bill in three months alone for using these unlawful tactics to get their own way”.

The CFMEU admitted to three coercion breaches - one breach of s44 of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (BCII Act) and two breaches of s43 of the BCII Act. The CEPU was only involved in the action at the QIMR project and admitted to one breach of s43.

In the judgment, Justice Collier stated “I consider that the facts demonstrate the need to impose penalties which meet the object of specific deterrence, particularly in relation to the CFMEU whose organisers appear to have shown a somewhat cavalier disregard both of the need to comply with the law and of penalties which have been previously imposed on the union for similar conduct.” (Judgment, point 35)

For further information, Please see the Media Backgrounder which was issued when the case was filed. More information about the other two recent judgments is available on FWBC’s website:

Court orders CFMEU & CEPU to pay $65,000 in penalties in FWBC case

Court orders Vic CFMEU and officials to pay $115k in FWBC case

FWBC is the standalone regulator of workplace laws in Australia’s construction industry.

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