CFMEU’s McDonald & Buchan halt work at Children’s Hospital in alleged coercion bid

Site entrance padlocks glued shut, workers called “scabs” and told to “F*** off”

FWBC has started proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMEU, the CFMEUW and its officials Joe McDonald and Mick Buchan for allegedly organising a protest in a bid to coerce John Holland to meet its pay demands. 

About 200 workers were prevented or discouraged from entering the New Children’s Hospital construction site on 3 May 2013, where about 400 people were protesting. Many of the protestors were wearing clothing with CFMEU and Maritime Union of Australia logos.

FWBC is alleging Mick Buchan instructed protestors to let John Holland’s Employee Relations Manager onto site but she could not enter because the locks on the main entrance had been glued shut. FWBC is also alleging that CFMEU organiser Tawa Harris addressed workers who approached the main entrance with a loudhailer and said things such as “F*** off”, “You’re scabs”, and “You’re not entering site”.

It is alleged McDonald and CFMEU organisers Ray McMurrich and Peter Joshua stood together at the main entrance gate to the site, with about 10 other protestors at the gate and approximately 25 protestors directly opposite at a tent the CFMEU erected. The CFMEU referred to the tent as “the Equal Pay Embassy”.

The union wrote on its Western Australian branch Facebook page “community protest set to run continually over the next 48 hours…get down and support the workers who are not on equal pay for doing the same job as their EBA comrades.”

It is also alleged the CFMEU or CFMEUW paid $1155 for a plane to fly over the site carrying a large banner which read “EBA means equal pay – Shame John Holland Shame”.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the allegations against the CFMEU, CFMEUW and its officials are extremely serious. “I consider allegations of coercion to be particularly heinous, especially when they involve jeopardising work on a hospital being built for sick children,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

The unions’ pay demands would have required John Holland to only use subcontractors which had an enterprise agreement acceptable to the CFMEU or which paid at least equivalent wages and conditions as those applying to John Holland’s own employees at the project.

More information is available in the media backgrounder.

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