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

One CEPU and two CFMEU organisers allegedly incited workers to strike on one of Australia’s largest construction sites, with one organiser telling the workers that it would “send a message” to the head contractor.

FWBC is alleging in the Federal Court that in June of last year, a flyer titled “Constructions Union Northern Territory Union Meeting” was circulated to workers on the $45 billion Ichthys Liquefied National Gas (LNG) project, inviting them to a meeting, to discuss purported parking problems.

Located approximately 220 km offshore Western Australia, the LNG project is ranked among the most significant oil and gas projects in the world and represents the largest discovery of hydrocarbon liquids in Australia in 40 years. Workers from the project’s onshore facility, located in Darwin, use the “Park and Ride” system which enables them to park their vehicles at one of two designated locations and then travel to and from the project by bus. The designated pick up points are at Yarrawonga and Darwin airport.

FWBC alleges that CFMEU organiser Michael Robinson conducted a meeting at the Yarrawonga Park and Ride because the CFMEU did not believe the head contractor was doing enough to rectify “issues” on the project, such as not providing enough car parking.

 “…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…We also have our brothers at the Airport Park and Ride doing the same there,” Mr Robinson allegedly said to those workers who had gathered for the meeting.

On the same day, at the Airport Park and Ride, CFMEU organiser Shaun Taylor and CEPU organiser Michael Haire allegedly addressed workers who were due to board the bus and perform work on the project that day. Mr Taylor allegedly told the workers “…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”. Michael Haire allegedly told the workers, “The congestion is wrong and not getting on the buses would send a message to [the head contractor]”

It is alleged that shortly after the conclusion of the two meetings, project workers failed to board the buses to transport them to the site to perform work. The site currently employs approximately 6,500 workers. There were up to 10 buses at each parking area with the incidents occurred.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said industrial action had significant flow on effects in the building and construction industry. “We take reports of people organising industrial action very seriously, and in this case consider it in the public interest to put the matter before the court.”

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual, and $51,000 for a union per breach. FWBC is alleging the CFMEU broke the law 4 times, the CEPU 2 times, Mr Robinson 2 times, Mr Taylor 2 times and Mr Haire 2 times.

A directions hearing is yet to be scheduled in the NT Federal Court.

More information can be found in the media backgrounder.

PDF icon Media Release - CFMEU and CEPU allegedly organise strikes to send a message to head contractor .pdf