11 August 2015CFMEU & CEPU allegedly organise strikes to “send a message” to head contractor

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Michael Robinson and Ors

Allegations as outlined in Fair Work Building & Construction’s (FWBC) statement of claim, these may vary over the course of the proceeding.

Background

Sites

1.     Yarrawonga Park and Ride transportation system, Georgina Crescent, Yarrawonga, Palmerston, Northern Territory

2.     Airport Park and Ride transportation system, Darwin Airport, Northern Territory

3.     Located approximately 220 km offshore Western Australia and with an estimated $45 billion total project cost, the LNG project is ranked among the most significant oil and gas projects in the world. Workers on the LNG Project onshore facility use the “park and ride” system, which enables them to park their vehicles at one of the above locations. They are then transported by bus to the onshore facility at Bladin Point near Darwin. The onshore facility, once completed, will cool and transform gas into liquid. The gas will come to the onshore facility via the project’s 889 kilometre gas export pipeline.

Respondents

4.     The CFMEU, the CEPU, CFMEU organiser Michael Robinson, CFMEU organiser Shaun Taylor, CEPU organiser Michael Haire.

Yarrawonga Park and Ride site

5.     FWBC alleges that a flyer titled “Construction Unions Northern Territory Union Meeting” which invited members to a meeting at the Yarrawonga Park and Ride project at 5.30am sharp on Thursday 19 June 2014 was circulated.

6.     FWBC alleges that on 19 June 2014 at approximately 5.30am, organiser Michael Robinson conducted a meeting with workers due to commence work on the project.

7.     FWBC alleges that Mr Robinson addressed the meeting attendees with words to the effect of “Guys, you know 13 of us have come here on Sunday to support you. We’ve had discussions with [the head contractor] and it seems that they have only been paying lip service to us. We’ve got a motion before us that we stop work today and we all have to remain united. I’ve been working hard for you on these issues. We also have our brothers at the Airport park and ride doing the same there.” “Some of these guys have already gone home to support us. The plan will be to go home today, you’ll probably get orders to return tomorrow, but we will have another meeting at the park and go tomorrow and go from there”.

8.     FWBC further alleges that Mr Robinson said to the meeting attendees “We have a motion on the ground that we stop work this morning and come back tomorrow. Can I have a show of hands please? All those in favour raise your hands?” and in response to this, the majority of those in attendance at the meeting raised their hands.

9.     Mr Robinson allegedly asked “all those against?” to which none of the meeting attendees raised their hand. Mr Robinson said “OK, the motion has been carried. We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning”.

10.  FWBC alleges that the meeting concluded at approximately 5.55am. After the meeting, approximately 30 of the project workers failed to board a bus to transport them to work at the project and therefore did not attend for or perform work on the project on this day.

Airport Park and Ride site

11.  FWBC alleges that on 19 June at approximately 5.30am, CFMEU organiser Shaun Taylor and CEPU organiser Michael Haire conducted a meeting with workers who were due to start work on the project.

12.  FWBC alleges that Mr Taylor said to the meeting attendees words to the effect: “We’ve spoken to [the head contractor] about the issues, but they are doing nothing…There are problems at both Yarrawonga sites…Look at the congestion. You guys need to go home. It might be called strike action and there might be 418 orders and all that but we’ll back you all the way. 100 per cent. We’ve never not supported anyone, we’ll back you 100 per cent.”

13.  FWBC alleges that Mr Haire then said to the meeting attendees words to the effect: “The congestion is wrong and not getting on the buses would send a message to [the head contractor],”

14.  FWBC alleges that at the conclusion of the Airport meeting, Mr Taylor told the employees words to the effect: “You should go home for the day.”

15.  FWBC alleges that shortly following the meeting, workers from the project who had attended the meeting failed to board a bus to transport them to work at the project and therefore did not attend for or perform any work at the project on this date.

Contraventions

16.  FWBC alleges that Mr Robinson, Mr Taylor and the CFMEU contravened section 417(1)(a) of the Fair Work Act by organising industrial action on 19 June 2014.

17.  FWBC alleges that Mr Robinson and the CFMEU contravened section 348 of the Fair Work Act when they organised the industrial action with the intent to coerce the head contractor to rectify issues at the Yarrawonga Park and Ride site.

18.  FWBC alleges that Mr Taylor and the CFMEU contravened section 348 of the Fair Work Act when they organised the industrial action with the intent to coerce the head contractor to rectify issues at the Airport Park and Ride site.

19.  FWBC alleges that Mr Haire and the CEPU contravened section 417(1)(a) of the Fair Work Act by organising industrial action on 19 June 2014.

20.  FWBC alleges that Mr Haire and the CEPU contravened section 348 of the Fair Work Act when they organised the industrial action with the intent to coerce the head contractor to rectify issues at the Airport Park and Ride site.

Maximum penalties

21.  The maximum penalties available to the court in this case are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation, including a union.

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