20 June 2013FWBC alleges CFMEU & CEPU orchestrated 3-day strike on 3 Qld projects

Backgrounder

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v CFMEU & CEPU

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

Background

QCH Project strike

  1. Abigroup was the head contractor on the Queensland Children’s Hospital Project (QCH Project) which was valued at $800m and to be completed by the end of 2013.
     
  2. Abigroup engaged several subcontractors on the QCH site.
     
  3. On 24 May 2011, CFMEU organisers Joseph Myles and Shane Treadaway and CEPU organisers Christopher Lynch and Gary O’Halloran attended the QCH site and told employees that there would be no work that day.
     
  4. At 6.30am on 24 May 2013, the organisers addressed a gathering of the QCH employees at a park across the street where they issued them with a pro-forma letter to the Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman alleging sham contracting at the QCH site.
     
  5. The employees voted to stop work for 72 hours. The majority of workers did not return to site and did not work on 24, 25 and 26 May 2011.
     

The BCEC Project strike

  1. Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd (Laing O’Rourke) was the head contractor on the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre Project (BCEC Project) which was valued at $120m and due to be completed by the end of 2013.
     
  2. Laing O’Rourke engaged several subcontractors at the site.
     
  3. On 24 May, CFMEU organiser Peter Close attended the site and told a supervisor that it was intended to “take the job out until Friday” and that “we are taking out the Mater Hospital, the Bovis Lend Lease Court and a Watpac job”.
     
  4. Mr Close then proceeded to the gate of the project and spoke to employees as they arrived. Around 260 BCEC employees made their way to the South Bank Parklands to attend a meeting with Mr Close.
     
  5. After the meeting, Mr Close told the Laing O’Rourke representative that the workers would go on strike for the day and would reconvene the next day, 25 May 2011, for another meeting at 6.30am.
     
  6. Mr Close told another Laing O’Rourke representative that the CFMEU wanted to send a message to the State Government about sham contracting.
     
  7. Mr Close also said words to the effect of “we are going to round up members from the other State Government projects and congregate in South Bank Park followed by a march to the Ombudsman in the city.”
     
  8. At 6am on 25 May 2011, Mr Close as well as CFMEU organisers Edward Bland, Kevin Griffin and Jamie McQueen attended the BCEC site and told a Laing O’Rourke representative that they were there to convene a meeting at Southbank Parklands.
     
  9. The BCEC workers left the site to attend the meeting.
     
  10. Following the meeting, Mr Close, Mr Bland and Mr Griffin attended the BCEC site and told the Laing O’Rourke representative that the workers had decided to remain on strike until 6.30am on Friday, 27 May 2011. They also said they were aware that some people worked on the site on 24 May 2011 and that was to stop.
     
  11. The majority of workers went on strike on 25 May 2011.
     
  12. At 6am on 26 May 2011, Mr Bland, Mr Griffin and CFMEU organiser Gerard Neiland attended the BCEC site and told anyone attempting to enter that it was closed due to a strike.
     

The QIMR Project strike

  1. Watpac Construction Pty Ltd (Watpac) was the head contractor on the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Project (QIMR Project) at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. The project involved the construction of a 15 storey medical research centre. The relevant second stage was to be completed by the end of February 2012.
     
  2. Watpac engaged several subcontractors on the project.
     
  3. At 6am on 24 May 2011, CFMEU organisers Tony Kong and Andrew Clark and CEPU organiser Mark Bateman convened a meeting of workers at the QIMR project site.
     
  4. At the meeting, the organisers issued the employees with a pro-forma letter to the Queensland Workplace Rights Ombudsman alleging sham contracting at the QIMR site.
     
  5. Mr Clark told a Watpac representative that employees at the site were not being paid the correct entitlements and would not return to work until Friday, 27 May 2011.
     
  6. As a result, about 180 QIMR employees went on strike on 24, 25 and 26 May 2011.
     

Contraventions

  1. FWBC alleges that the CFMEU and CEPU, by the actions of their organisers, were involved in the strike on 24, 25 and 26 May 2011, thereby engaging in unlawful industrial action and breaching s38 of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (BCII Act).
     

Civil Litigation Proceedings

  1. FWBC filed proceedings in the Federal Court at Brisbane on 23 May 2013.
     
  2. A directions hearing is scheduled for 9.30am on 25 June 2013.
     

Maximum penalties

  1. The maximum applicable penalty for a contravention of the BCII Act is $110,000 for a corporation.
     

Related matters

  1. Director Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v CFMEU, Pearson, Vink, O’Doherty, CEPU, Hanna, Jarvis, Olsen & Malone – FWBC, along with the head contractor, Lend Lease secured a $590,000 penalty on 19 October 2012. This case involved strikes on the Gold Coast University Hospital and Brisbane Supreme Court and District Law Courts Project in May 2011.
     
  2. FWBC also secured $101,930 compensation for subcontractors who were adversely affected as a result of those strikes.
PDF icon FWBC alleges CFMEU & CEPU orchestrated 3-day strike on 3 Qld projects.pdf