13 February 2015CFMEU official allegedly locks non-union workers out of smoko shed and throws out their lunch

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Scott Vink, CFMEU Queensland & CFMEU

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 filed proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court against the CFMEU, the CFMEU Queensland (CFMEUQ)and CFMEU Official Scott Vink.

2. FWBC alleges that the CFMEU, CFMEUQ and Mr Vink breached right of entry laws at The Pacific Fair shopping centre redevelopment project, on Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach, Queensland.

3. It is alleged that at about 6.45am on 5 March 2014, Mr Vink entered the site.

4. We allege that while on the site, Mr Vink entered the site shed and removed workers’ personal belongings including food from the refrigerator, placing the property on the ground outside the shed.

5. A Health & Safety Manager questioned Mr Vink asking “Mate, why are you moving our stuff?” to which Mr Vink allegedly replied: “It’s not your shed. It has been paid for by somebody else” and “Sheds were won by unionists for unionists, mate”.

6. The H & S Manager then asked “So you’re saying that we can’t use this shed?” to which Mr Vink allegedly replied:“It’s not your shed, mate. Leave it alone.” and “Get out of the shed and let Westfields deal with it. Get out of the shed now. It’s not your shed”. The Manager responded: “I don’t believe that you have the authority to order me out of the shed” and attempted to return the workers’ property to the shed after Mr Vink had left the area.

7. As the property was being returned to the shed, it is alleged that Mr Vink returned to the shed and told the Manager to “Get out of the f***en shed” a number of times. During this exchange, Mr Vink took possession of food that had been returned to the shed, including two cartons of milk, and threw them outside onto the pile of workers’ possessions.

8. It is alleged that Mr Vink approached the Manager, who now was sitting in a chair, and lifted the back of the chair in an attempt to tip him off the chair and force him to his feet.

9. The Manager resisted and said “you can’t touch me”, to which Mr Vink allegedly replied: “Get out of the shed you scab.” and “You’re a f***en piece of sh*t mate, that’s what you are”.

10. Mr Vink briefly left the shed and the Site Manager attempted to return cold food items to the refrigerator. FWBC alleges that once Mr Vink returned he raised his voice and yelled at the Manager “What did I just f***en say mate? Get this sh*t out of the f***en shed. Don’t make it any worse,” to which the site manager responded “You’re just throwing our stuff around mate.”

11. The Manager once again attempted to return the workers’ property to the shed and refrigerator before he was again interrupted by Mr Vink.

12. The Site Manager asked Mr Vink “In relation to the guys’ cold stuff that they’ve got in the fridge, may we leave that in the fridge? Is that unreasonable to ask?” Mr Vink allegedly responded: “No. maybe you can put Neil’s stuff in the fridge. Neil’s a union member, and that’s how fridges came about on sites mate. So how about you take it up there and go and get an esky or something like that?” and “Right. So now do you want to do what is asked and get out of the shed please mate? No one’s putting anything in that fridge except for union members.”

13. After asking the Manager “What else you got in there mate?” it is alleged that Vink said “No, what else you got in there? I want it out now.”

14. The Manager removed the last of the workers’ posessions from the shed and the refrigerator and was allegedly asked by Mr Vink “Is that it?” to which he replied that it was. Following this exchange, Mr Vink produced a padlock which he fastened to the door of the shed, preventing all access.

15. The site Foreman then told Mr Vink “You can’t put locks on our shed mate”. Mr Vink allegedly said “Who cares? Sheds were won by unionists for unionists mate.”

16. The Manager asked a Mainland Civil worker what the options were for replacing the fridge to which FWBC alleges Mr Vink replied with “It’s a pretty easy f***en fix boys. Anyone on this job’s in the f***en union. Those sheds were won by f***en unionists? Where do you think people used to sit; under a f***en tree. You can go p**s in a bucket for all I care.”

17. As a result of Mr Vink’s conduct, the manager had to arrange for the workers to eat their lunch at a nearby shopping centre.

Contraventions and maximum penalties

18. FWBC alleges that the CFMEU, CFMEUQ and Mr Vink contravened s.500 of the Fair Work Act on four occasions each when Mr Vink intentionally obstructed workers by refusing to allow them entry to the site shed.

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

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