09 May 2014CFMEU's McDonald & Buchan halt work at Children's Hospital in alleged coercion bid

Director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v CFMEU, CFMEUW and others

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 against the CFMEU, the CFMEUW and their officials Joe McDonald and Mick Buchan. Joe McDonald is the Assistant State Secretary of the CFMEU and Mick Buchan is the State Secretary of the CFMEU.
     
  2. John Holland was the head-contractor at the New Children’s Hospital Project in Western Australia.
     
  3. On 19 February 2013, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) made an order that employees of subcontractors working on the project not engage in, or threaten to engage in, industrial action.
     
  4. The CFMEU had widely communicated an industrial demand that John Holland engage subcontractors whose employees were covered by an enterprise agreement acceptable to the CFMEU and CFMEUW, or paid the same as those as workers covered by such an agreement.

2 May 2013

  1. The CFMEU set up a tent directly opposite the main entrance gate to the site with a banner which read: “Equal Pay Embassay, EBA Means Equal Pay, Shame John Holland Shame”.
     
  2. The CFMEU issued a media release under Buchan’s name titled “Workers Embassy sets up protest at Holland hospital site”.
     
  3. The CFMEU Western Australian Branch Facebook page feature a post which read: “Photo attached of the EQUAL PAY EMBASSY banner set up overnight – community protest set to run continually over the next 48 hours. John Holland Children’s Hospital site Monash Avenue Nedlands. Get on down and support the workers who are not on equal pay for doing the same job as their EBA comrades. Equal pay for Equal work!”
     
  4. FWBC alleges Buchan and McDonald and several other CFMEU officials and organisers had assembled at the Equal Pay Embassy Tent by about 5.25am.
     
  5. At about 5.30am, McDonald said to a worker entering the site “Tomorrow’s the big one”.

3 May 2013

  1. More than 200 subcontractor employees were required to attend for work at the site. There was a crowd of about 400 people protesting. Many of the protestors were wearing clothing with CFMEU and Maritime Union of Australia logos.
     
  2. FWBC alleges McDonald addressed protestors with a loudhailer and directed them where to position themselves at various areas of the site’s perimeter, including gates.
     
  3. It is alleged that throughout the morning, as people arrived for work, McDonald and Buchan and other CFMEU officials, organisers and members, occupied the entrances to the site and prevented or dissuaded those workers from entering the site.
     
  4. FWBC alleges that McDonald, and CFMEU organisers Ray McMurrich and Peter Joshua stood together at the main entrance gate to the site, with about 10 other protestors at the gate and approximately 25 protestors assembled directly opposite at the Equal Pay Embassy Tent.
     
  5. Approximately 10 to 15 protestors physically occupied the main entrance gate to the site.
     
  6. It is alleged that at about 5am, John Holland’s Employee Relations Manager asked Buchan for permission to enter the site. Buchan replied with words to the effect: “Let her through boys”. The Employee Relations Manager could not enter because the locks on the main entrance had been glued shut.
     
  7. FWBC alleges CFMEU organiser Tawa Harris addressed workers who approached the main entrance with a loudhailer and said things such as “F*** of”, “You’re scabs” and “You’re not entering site”.
     
  8. It is alleged that when a subcontractor manager approached McDonald and asked for his employees to be allowed on site to work, McDonald said words to the effect: “We’re not going anywhere…You won’t be working today”. When the manager said to McDonald “You can’t stop me”, the protestors at the gate said “You want a bet?”

11 March 2013

  1. On about 11 March 2013, a plane flew over the project site with a large banner flying behind it which read “EBA means equal pay – Shame John Holland Shame”. FWBC alleges this was ordered by or on behalf of the CFMEU or CFMEUW and cost $1155.

Contraventions and maximum penalties

  1. FWBC alleges McDonald and Buchan organised, or encouraged or incited the crowd of protestors to engage in conduct including preventing or discouraging people to attend for work. FWBC alleges they did this with the intent to deprive John Holland of its subcontractor workforce and thereby coerce John Holland into complying with the industrial demand set out above in paragraph 4. It is therefore alleged McDonald and Buchan, and subsequently the CFMEU and CFMEUW, contravened section 348 of the Fair Work Act.
     
  2. 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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