29 May 2014CFMEU organiser Joseph Myles allegedly threatens ‘war’ on major construction site

Director of the Fair Work Industry Inspectorate v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union

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 in the Federal Court of Australia against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and CFMEU organiser Joseph Myles.
     
  2. The alleged conduct happened on the Regional Rail Link City Project in Footscray.
     
  3. John Holland, Abigroup Contractors and Coleman Rail were engaged by the State of Victoria as the main contractors responsible for the construction of the City to Maribyrnong River Project Package B (the Package B project). The Package B project is part of the Victorian Government’s Regional Rail Link project to build new regional train lines. Package B covers the section of the Regional Rail Link Corridor between the north end of Southern Cross Station platforms 1 – 8 and the upside of Hopkins Street Footscray, and a section of the Werribee Line.
     
  4. The alleged conduct happened while the site offices, facilities and amenities for the Package B project were at Joseph Road, Footscray.
     
  5. There were almost 100 employees working on Package B at the relevant time.
     

Request for CFMEU delegate

  1. Joseph Myles frequently visited the Package B project site since work started in or around 2012.
     
  2. Myles repeatedly asked a John Holland site manager to put a CFMEU delegate on the site. The site manager said there was no need for a CFMEU delegate because there was already a delegate on site and the Australian Workers Union was a party to the Enterprise Agreement.
     

16 May 2013 – The concrete pour

  1. John Holland and Abigroup had engaged Boral Concrete to supply 130 cubic metres of wet concrete on 16 May 2013 to build a deflection wall. Concrete trucks were to arrive in approximately 10 minute intervals over a three to four hour period.
     
  2. At about 11.50am, four Boral concrete trucks had delivered approximately 24.4 of the 130 cubic metres of concrete to be poured that day.
     
  3. At about midday, Joseph Myles and 15 to 20 other people, including other CFMEU officials, Drew McDonald and Shaun Reardon, and CFMEU members, arrived at Joseph Road and parked several cars across the width of the street outside the entrance gate, blocking vehicle access to the site. They stood around the vehicles on the road.
     
  4. When the site manager asked Myles what he was doing, Myles responded sarcastically with words to the effect of: “we’ve lost our keys and are waiting for the RACV”.
     
  5. Within 30 minutes, several Boral trucks carrying wet concrete were parked up Joseph’s Road unable to access the pumping equipment on site to unload the concrete.
     
  6. At about 12.30pm, the site manager approached Myles who was standing around the parked cars on Joseph Street. Myles said words to effect: “I haven’t got a delegate on site to protect my members so I’m blocking the road”. The site manager replied: “The Alliance has an AWU delegate, we don’t need a CFMEU delegate. We are under an AWU agreement.” Myles responded with words to effect: “I will only remove the blockade if you stop the pour and pack the concrete pumps up.”
     
  7. The blockade continued until about 2.30 pm when the people standing around the vehicles blocking the site shook hands, posed for a photograph with a CFMEU banner, then left in the vehicles.
     
  8. Before he left the site, Myles said to the site manager words to effect: “I’ll be back tomorrow to stop the concrete pour” and “You won’t pour again until you put a delegate on and (CFMEU – Construction Victoria President) Ralph Edwards is happy”.
     
  9. The 24.4 cubic metres of concrete poured was wasted and there were additional costs incurred in demolishing and disposing of it. While the order with Boral was cancelled shortly after midday, an additional 45 cubic metres of concrete had already been dispatched to the site which could not be used.
     

17 May 2013

  1. At 10.05am, Myles returned to the Joseph Road site where he had a conversation with the site manager the substance of which was:

Myles: Has the project reconsidered having a delegate on site, because if there was a delegate on site, there would be no more issues guaranteed.

Site manager: No we haven’t considered a delegate, and won’t be having one.

Myles: Do you want a war or a delegate?

Site manager: Nobody wants a war.

Myles: Well if you don’t want to put a delegate on then we will have one. I’ll be back tomorrow to stop the concrete pour.

Contraventions, Civil Litigation Proceedings and Maximum Penalties

  1. FWBC alleges Joseph Myles and the CFMEU contravened s348 of the Fair Work Act because they tried to coerce John Holland or Abigroup to employ or engage a CFMEU delegate.
     
  2. The matter has been set down for a directions hearing on 13 June 2014.
     
  3. The maximum penalty for each contravention in this matter is $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation, which includes unions.
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