FWBC pursues CFMEU blockade of Perth Airport Expansion

FWBC has filed legal proceedings against the CFMEU and six union officials over allegations they took coercive action on the $80 million Perth International Airport Arrivals Expansion project site.

FWBC alleges that, from 6.30am on 22 October 2013, the CFMEU and its officials organised approximately 100 individuals to block the entrance to the Airport Expansion site in a way which prevented approximately 160 workers from attending work.    

During the blockade, which is alleged to have lasted from 6am to 10am, CFMEU Assistant State Secretary Joseph McDonald is alleged to have verbally abused a female supervisor and her workers when they attempted to cross the picket line, saying words to the effect: “f**king bitch” and “piss hole”. He allegedly told her workers words to the effect that they were: “all being pussy whipped”. McDonald is further alleged to have said words to the effect that the CFMEU would return with 100 people the next morning.

FWBC alleges CFMEU official Walter (Vinnie) Molina told a subcontractor “Can you please just wait until the camera crews have gone before you come back on Site?

FWBC’s proceedings allege that the actions of the CFMEU and its officials breached the Fair Work Act by seeking to coerce Perth Airport Pty Ltd and/or contractors on the site to comply with the unions’ demands concerning alleged unpaid worker entitlements. 

FWBC investigated the claimed underpayments and all outstanding entitlements were voluntarily paid.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said unions seeking to address underpayments of wages should exercise their rights by lawful means. “Coercion has no place on Australian building sites,” he said. “Unions should seek to exercise their lawful rights, rather than resort to using coercion and industrial tactics that hinder the construction of Australia’s infrastructure.”

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.

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