CFMEU' Victorian President Ralph Edwards facing court over shop steward demands

FWBC has launched proceedings against the CFMEU and its Victorian Construction and General Branch President Ralph Edwards in the Federal Court of Australia.

FWBC alleges the CFMEU and Edwards took coercive and adverse action against Red & Blue Scaffolding (Aust) Pty Ltd by demanding it employ a CFMEU-nominated shop steward.

FWBC alleges on 14 June, 2013, Edwards telephoned the Director of the scaffolding company and said words to the effect: “I’m telling you what I want you to do.” “I don’t care who you’ve got. The rules of the union are, we choose who is a shop steward. If you wanna have a business you have to have a working relationship with me.” “Well done [Director’s name], you’ve sacked your own workforce. You will be out of business.”

FWBC further alleges on 22 June, 2013, a CFMEU shop steward told an employee of the scaffolding company at a site in Maribyrnong, Victoria, words  to the effect: “Until I’ve been told otherwise by Ralph [Edwards] or my own supervisor, Red & Blue don’t have permission to come onto site and aren’t allowed to remove any of its gear from the site”.

FWBC alleges on 17 July, 2013, a CFMEU shop steward told employees of the scaffolding company at a building site in South Yarra, Victoria, words to the effect: “I can’t let you onsite. There’s an issue between Red & Blue and Ralph”. “My hands are tied. I’ve been told by my superior that I can’t let Red & Blue onsite unless you sort it out. So get your boss, put him in a car and take him to the union office and you need to speak to Ralph.”

FWBC alleges Ralph Edwards organised, advised, incited and or encouraged the shop stewards to engage in the unlawful action above.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the allegations against the CFMEU and Ralph Edwards were extremely serious. “Businesses should not be subjected to coercive tactics when making staffing appointments,” he said.

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

FWBC is also seeking compensation for the scaffolding company for the loss suffered because of the actions of the CFMEU and Edwards.

PDF icon CFMEU’s Victorian president Ralph Edwards facing court media release.pdf