14 July 2014CFMEU' Victorian President Ralph Edwards facing court over shop steward demands

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

Allegations as outlined in Fair Work Building & Construction’s (FWBC) statement of claim, these may vary over the course of the proceeding.

  1. FWBC has launched proceedings against the CFMEU and Ralph Edwards, who is President of the CFMEU’s Construction and General Division Victoria/Tasmania Divisional Branch.
  2. FWBC alleges the CFMEU and Edwards took action intended to coerce Red & Blue Scaffolding (Aust) Pty Ltd to agree to its demand to employ a shop steward nominated by the CFMEU.
  3. FWBC alleges the CFMEU and Edwards took adverse action against the scaffolding company because it refused to comply with the CFMEU’s demands to employ the nominated shop steward.

14 June 2013

  1. In or about early June 2013, Edwards allegedly telephone a Director of the scaffolding company and said words to the effect: “I have found you a shop steward to employ. His name is Robert Connolloy.” And “You are going to employ him and put him on the books and that is it. Have a think about it and come back to me.”
  2. On the morning of 14 June 2013, Edwards allegedly telephoned the same 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.” “I don’t want none of that ABN bullsh*t. Well done [Director’s name], you’ve sacked your own workforce. You will be out of business.”

22 June 2013

  1. Two Red & Blue Scaffolding employees attended for work at the La Scala Apartments site in Maribyrnong, Victoria.
  2. Terry Harris, a shop steward representing the interests of the CFMEU employed at the site, allegedly told one of the scaffolding company’s employees 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”. “I don’t want to send you boys home but my hands are tied.”
  3. FWBC alleges Ralph Edwards organised, advised, incited and/or encouraged the shop steward to engage in the action above.

17 July 2013

  1. Four employees of the scaffolding company attended for work at the Central South Yarra Apartments site in South Yarra, Victoria.
  2. Con Giannakos, a shop steward representing the interests of the CFMEU employed at the site, allegedly told one of the scaffolding company’s employees words to the effect: “Until Ralph Edwards tells me otherwise, Red & Blue aren’t allowed on site”.
  3. It is further alleged the shop steward said to other employees of the scaffolding company words to the effect: “no Red & Blue here”. “Red & Blue aren’t allowed on site”. “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 until 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.”
  4. FWBC alleges the shop steward prevented the scaffolding company from performing the contracted scaffolding services.
  5. FWBC alleges Ralph Edwards organised, advised, incited or encouraged the shop steward to engage in the action above.

Maximum penalties

  1. 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.
  2. FWBC is also seeking compensation for Red & Blue for the loss suffered because of the actions of the CFMEU and Edwards.
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