07 August 2014CFMEU to face court over coercion claims

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) 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

  1. FWBC has launched proceedings against the CFMEU, its Assistant Secretary Shaun Reardon and former official Danny Berardi.
  2. FWBC alleges the CFMEU, Reardon and Berardi took action intended to coerce a small building company to exercise a workplace right, namely the making of an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.
  3. FWBC alleges the CFMEU and Berardi took adverse action against the building company because it refused to make an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.
  4. The company was engaged in performing building works at Hawthorn in Melbourne, Victoria.

 

CFMEU requests for the building company to enter an enterprise agreement under the Fair Work Act

  1. FWBC alleges in May 2013, Berardi told the Director and Construction Manager of the building company (The Director) words to the effect: “You’re doing a job in my area. We need to meet and you need to come in and discuss and sign an EBA”.
  2. FWBC alleges on about 14 June 2013, Theo Theodorou, of the CFMEU spoke to The Director on the phone and said words to the effect: “The time has come for you to sign an EBA”.
  3. FWBC alleges on 27 June 2013, Berardi and Alex Tadic, in their capacity as officers of the CFMEU, attended the site and asked the site manager whether the company had entered an agreement with the CFMEU and stated that they knew the company planned a lift on the site the following day.

 

28 June 2013

  1. FWBC alleges on 28 June 2013, the building company had scheduled at the site the delivery of concrete panels and a crane lift of the concrete panels.
  2. FWBC alleges the concrete panels were delivered at about 6am. It is further alleged at about 9am, the crane company ceased lifting work and related tasks and refused to work until Berardi of the CFMEU arrived.
  3. FWBC alleges Berardi arrived at the site at about 9.30am, spoke with the crane driver, and then stated out loud words to the effect: “Turn the truck around, pack up and go home”.
  4. FWBC alleges Berardi spoke to the Director of the building company on the phone and stated words to the effect: “You won’t be lifting panels” and “You’re playing games with me in my area; you won’t be lifting the panels today”.
  5. It is alleged when the Director said he needed to lift the panels on the site that day, Berardi said words to the effect: “You’re not f**king lifting the panels.”
  6. FWBC alleges the Director told Berardi the company would not be signing an EBA with the CFMEU and Berardi responded with the statement: “Well, you’ll be f**ked. I’ll blockade all your sites.”
  7. FWBC alleges at 11.45am the Director called Reardon who stated words to the effect: “You need to sign an EBA… The only way to teach you guys a lesson about joining an EBA is when we f**k you around and delay your sites like with crane lifts.”
  8. FWBC alleges as a consequence, the crane company left the site without lifting any panels and the panels were unable to be offloaded and were returned to Shepparton.
  9. FWBC alleges the site closed for work that day at about 1pm without any substantive construction work having been performed.

 

31 July 2013

  1. FWBC alleges on 31 July 2013, the building company had arranged for a precast concrete installation at the site and had contracted for a crane company to attend the site to assist in a lift and installation of the concrete panels.
  2. FWBC alleges at about 10am, Tadic and Berardi of the CFMEU arrived at the site and Berardi stated to the site manager words to the effect: “You still don’t have an EBA”.
  3. It is alleged Berardi then entered the site and spoke to the crane operator and stated words to the effect: “Stop what you are doing”.
  4. FWBC alleges all crane work on the site stopped for a period of three hours after Berardi’s announcement.

 

Contraventions

  1. FWBC alleges that Berardi contravened sections 340, 343 and 348 of the FW Act.
  2. FWBC alleges that Reardon contravened section 343 of the FW Act.
  3. FWBC futher alleges that the CFMEU is liable for the actions of its officials and has therefore contravened sections 340, 343 and 348 of the FW Act.

 

Maximum penalties

  1. The maximum applicable penalty for each contravention of the FW Act in this matter is $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a body corporate.
PDF icon CFMEU to face court over coercion claims.pdf