Court imposes $25,000 penalty on CFMEU and organiser in Victoria

The Federal Magistrate’s Court at Melbourne has ordered the CFMEU and organiser Matthew Hudson to pay penalties totaling $25,000 for directing workers to strike on a Carlton construction site.

Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC) Chief Executive Leigh Johns said the agency would not tolerate unlawful industrial action.

"Industrial issues should be worked out between the parties in a mature and professional manner. As the specialist regulator of workplace laws in the construction industry, FWBC has a responsibility to encourage and cultivate harmonious, productive and cooperative workplace relations.

“Fair Work Building Industry Inspectors will fully investigate all allegations of unlawful strikes on Australian construction sites. If the investigation warrants it, we will take the matter to court and hold those who contravene the law to account.”

The parties signed an agreed statement of facts and consented to a penalty of $17,500 for the CFMEU and $7500 for Mr Hudson.

Buildcorp Commercial Pty Ltd was the head contractor on the Rosso apartment site in Carlton. Buildcorp engaged various subcontractors on the site, including Jelena Hall. Jelena Hall’s workers were employed under a workplace agreement with the CFMEU which was about to expire.

The CFMEU wanted to commence negotiations with Jelena Hall for a new building enterprise agreement. A meeting between the parties had been scheduled for 16 March 2009.

Mr Hudson and the CFMEU admitted that on 13 March 2009, Mr Hudson encouraged 44 employees of Jelena Hall and the other subcontractors who attended a meeting in front of the site to go on strike. As a result of the direction, 22 of the workers went on strike for the remainder of the day.

“This penalty result comes as FWBC filed proceedings against the Victorian Branch of the CFMEU and ten individuals in relation to the recent Grocon dispute,” Mr Johns said.

For further information on unlawful industrial action, see FWBC’s Industrial Action Fact Sheet.