15 September 2014FWBC pursues unlawful industrial action at NT’s largest gas project

Director of Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Michael Huddy and ors

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

  1. FWBC has issued proceedings in the Darwin Federal Court against CFMEU organiser Michael Huddy, CFMEU delegate Craig Tait, the CFMEU and 66 employees of Laing O’Rourke Construction Australia Pty Ltd (LOR).
  2. FWBC alleges Mr Huddy and Mr Tait organised industrial action at the Ichthys LNG Project.
  3. The Ichthys LNG Project is the Northern Territory’s largest ever construction project. The Ichthys Project will have an initial capacity to produce 8.4 million tonnes of LNG per annum and 1.6 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per annum.
  4. It is alleged the industrial action was taken with intent to coerce LOR to meet its workers’ demands in relation to the time buses left the project to take the workers to their accommodation.
  5. At the time of the alleged industrial action, an Enterprise Agreement was in operation which covered the CFMEU and LOR’s employees who were employed to perform on-Site construction within LOR’s scope of work on the Project, which included the Respondent Employees.
  6. The Enterprise Agreement contained a clause requiring that a disagreement or dispute be dealt with in a prescribed way and that the parties recognise and support the right of LOR to require employees not to leave their designated work area prior to the finish time of each designated work day.

22 October 2013

  1. FWBC alleges on 22 October 2013, Mr Huddy visited the Project Site and conducted a meeting in the crib room during the morning break.
  2. FWBC alleges Mr Tait addressed the Respondent Employees and said words to the effect: “There are people within the company that are not happy with the bussing situation” and “Stand up and air your grievances”.
  3. It is alleged one of the Respondent Employees said words to the effect: “I propose that we go on strike”.
  4. It is alleged a number of the Respondent Employees sought to second the motion to strike.
  5. FWBC alleges Mr Tait asked for a show of hands in support of the strike motion. It is alleged approximately 90% to 100% of the Respondent Employees raised their hands.
  6. It is alleged Mr Tait said words to the effect: “We won’t be going back to work until we hear from Laing O’Rourke about our bus time pick-ups”.
  7. It is alleged Mr Huddy then said words to the effect: “We didn’t get this far without a fight. With this bus time issue, we need to stick together. We can’t have half of you going back to work and half here waiting in the crib room and then everyone reaping the benefits. We have got to be together on this.”
  8. FWBC alleges immediately after the conclusion of the meeting, at about 10.45am, in the knowledge of Mr Huddy and Mr Tait, and with or on their advice, encouragement and/or incitement, the Respondent Employees did not return to their normal duties and in so doing took or engaged in industrial action.
  9. FWBC alleges shortly after the meeting Mr Huddy told senior managers of LOR at the Site that the workers would not be returning to work.
  10. It is alleged one of the managers addressed the Respondent Employees in the crib room and said words to the effect: “Everyone is required to return to work, and by not doing so, it is unprotected industrial action”.
  11. It is alleged later in the afternoon, in the crib room, Mr Huddy said to one of the Respondent Employees “Don’t give in to these fellas. One day of protest is nothing compared to four years of twenty minutes every day.”
  12. FWBC alleges Mr Huddy was approached on four separate occasions and advised that he had breached his right of entry.
  13. It is alleged at about 12.45pm Mr Huddy was approached by a Site security officer and advised that his invitation to be on Site had been withdrawn and that he had to leave immediately.
  14. It is alleged at approximately 4.15pm the senior managers told the Respondent Employees, Mr Tait and Mr Huddy that LOR had sought an order from the Fair Work Commission to stop the unprotected industrial action and that LOR was lodging an application with the Fair Work Commission concerning the dispute.
  15. FWBC alleges at around 4.45pm Mr Huddy agreed to leave the Site.

23 October 2013

  1. FWBC alleges at around 6.30am on 23 October 2013, Mr Tait took a vote of the Respondent Employees as to whether the workers would return to work, the result of which was that the workers returned to their normal duties.

Contraventions

  1. FWBC alleges Mr Huddy and the CFMEU contravened ss 50, 343, 348, 417 (1)(a) and 500 of the Fair Work Act.
  2. FWBC alleges Mr Tait contravened ss 50, 343, 348 and 417(1)(a) of the Fair Work Act.
  3. It is alleged the Respondent Employees contravened ss 50, 343, 348 and 417 of the Fair Work Act.

Penalties

  1. 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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