CFMEU official banned for 1.5 years after bullying Government investigator

Following an application made by Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has revoked CFMEU Victorian official John Perkovic’s federal right of entry permit and banned him from getting another one until 2017.

FWBC put to FWC that Mr Perkovic was not a fit and proper person to hold a permit after the Federal Court fined him $5000 for unlawful conduct. Mr Perkovic tried to physically intimidate an FWBC Investigator, including saying “You’re just about having a heart attack. You’re sh*tting yellow, you piece of sh*t. Go f*ck…brush your teeth next time, you piece of sh*t, alright? You f*ckin’ coward, I’d f*ckin’ take you to school, you f*ckin’ piece of sh*t”. The Investigator was at an Adelaide construction site conducting enquiries into right of entry breaches which were later proved in court and described as part of a “coordinated and strategic” CFMEU effort.

In deciding to revoke Mr Perkovic’s permit, FWC noted his lack of contrition and remorse and said his “conduct involved a serious and ugly confrontation.” “In this case, not only did Mr Perkovic deliberately refuse to meet his basic obligations as a permit holder when asked to do so, but also proceeded, unprovoked, to use abusive language and physical menace in an attempt to intimidate, bully and belittle an FWBI Inspector going about his lawful duties,” FWC said.

The CFMEU also claimed in its submissions that FWBC’s Director had embarked on a right of entry campaign. The Fair Work Commission responded to this: “As to the so-called right of entry campaign being conducted by the Director, it seems to me the Director is doing no more than fulfilling one of the statutory functions of his office…”

Mr Perkovic was one of 12 CFMEU officials, who along with the CFMEU were fined a total $357,600 in two Federal Court rulings for unlawful conduct on Adelaide construction sites. (Case 1, Case 2).

FWBC successfully applied for seven of 12 officials’ permits to be suspended or revoked. The remaining five officials either no longer work for the CFMEU or their permit has expired. FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said his agency had seen an “exponential increase” in right of entry breaches on Australia’s building and construction sites.

“It is not difficult to comply with right of entry laws,” Mr Hadgkiss said. “There is no excuse for behaviour like Mr Perkovic’s. Holding a right of entry permit is a privilege, if you abuse that privilege, you cannot expect to maintain it.” 

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