Court finds CFMEU and official instigated strike on Heidelberg site in FWBC case

Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC) has secured a $15,000 penalty against the CFMEU and its official, Bill Beattie, for directing two workers to strike on the Florey Neuroscience Institute within the Austin Hospital site at Heidelberg, Victoria.

The Federal Court at Melbourne today endorsed the facts and penalties agreed to between the parties, imposing a $12,500 penalty on the CFMEU and $2500 on Mr Beattie.

FWBC Director Val Gostencnik said the union organised the strike, which took place from 8 to 13 July 2010, because workers employed by Glenn Industries Pty Ltd (GI) were being paid according to the company’s enterprise agreement and not higher rates because they were working in Victoria.

“The company was based in Adelaide and had an enterprise agreement that had been negotiated with the SA CFMEU and was applicable to its workers all over Australia”, Mr Gostencnik said.

“However, when GI undertook work in Victoria, the CFMEU protested that its workers should be paid higher rates for working in Victoria.

“The union then directed the two GI employees to go on strike which delayed work for three days. This is not a productive way for the union to do business - they should have consulted the dispute resolution clause in the enterprise agreement to reach a reasonable outcome with the company.”

The CFMEU and Mr Beattie admitted that they contravened s417 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) by organising industrial action before the nominal expiry date of an enterprise agreement.

Cockram Constructions Limited was the head contractor on the project and had engaged GI to design, construct and install glass reinforced cement at the site.

On 13 July 2010, GI acceded to the union’s demands and agreed to pay the two workers at the higher rates of pay demanded by the CFMEU. Mr Beattie then lifted the work ban.

FWBC is the standalone regulator of workplace relations laws in Australia’s construction industry.

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