CFMEU safety rep refuses site access to company without the ‘right’ union agreement

FWBC alleges two workers who had not paid their CFMEU membership fees and worked for a company that didn’t have a particular agreement with the CFMEU were refused access to a Melbourne CBD construction site. The workers, who had stopped paying their union membership fees due to the CFMEU’s refusal to negotiate an enterprise agreement with their employer, were allegedly told by the site’s acting OHS representative “I’m following orders from the CFMEU, they’re telling me what to do here and they’re telling me not to let you on the job.”

FWBC has filed documents in the Federal Court alleging the acting OHS representative and CFMEU officer, Nick Karamitos, and the CFMEU contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 by taking adverse action against two employees of a rope-access sealing company, on the basis that their CFMEU fees were overdue and their employer did not possess the ‘right’ enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.

It is alleged that after arriving on the building site, the workers were told by Mr Karamitos “your CFMEU dues are out of date by one month and you won’t be starting on site until you pay up”. The workers responded that they had stopped paying their CFMEU dues after Victorian CFMEU branch President Ralph Edwards refused to meet or speak with their company about negotiating an enterprise agreement.

After allegedly contacting CFMEU Vice President Derek Christopher, Mr Karamitos told the workers “You can’t do the work here. You need to have the EBA, which we’re not going to give to you”. Mr Karamitos is also alleged to have told the director of the head contractor that the sealing company “don’t have an EBA. Well they have an EBA, but not the right EBA so I can’t let them on”.

As a result of the alleged actions of Mr Karamitos and the CFMEU, the company was not able to perform any work at the site nor receive any payment pursuant their contract.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “It is disheartening to hear reports of yet another instance where a CFMEU safety representative appears to be primarily focused on union membership dues. This case also highlights workers losing their ability to do their job because of discrimination”.

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this matter are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a union.

More information can be found in the media backgrounder.

PDF icon Media Release - CFMEU refuses to negotiate enterprise agreement then refuses site entry.pdf