CFMEU to face court over coercion claims

FWBC has launched legal proceedings against the CFMEU and current and former CFMEU officials over claims they intended to coerce a small building company to sign an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.

FWBC alleges on 28 June 2013 CFMEU Assistant Secretary Shaun Reardon told the Director of the building company 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.”

It is alleged that former official Danny Berardi went to the building site in Hawthorn, Victoria, earlier that day and told the Director of the building company words to the effect: “You’re playing games with me in my area; you won’t be lifting the panels today”.

FWBC alleges when the Director told Berardi that the company would not be signing an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU, Berardi responded with the statement: “Well you’ll be f**ked. I’ll blockade all your sites”.

It is alleged as a consequence of Berardi and Reardon’s actions the site closed for work that day without any substantive construction work having been performed.

FWBC alleges on 31 July 2013 Berardi attended the site again and said to the site manager words to the effect: “You still don’t have an EBA”.

It is alleged Berardi spoke to the crane operator and stated words to the effect: “Stop what you are doing”. FWBC alleges following Berardi’s statement, all crane work on the site stopped for a period of three hours.

FWBC alleges that Berardi’s actions resulted in adverse action under the Fair Work Act. Furthermore, FWBC alleges that Berardi and Reardon engaged in action with the intent to coerce the building company to make an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said people and businesses should not be coerced into signing away a workplace right. “Coercion has no place on Australian building sites,” he said. “Enterprise agreements are a workplace right not a requirement.”

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