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

FWBC has filed legal proceedings in the Darwin Federal Court alleging that the CFMEU, two of its representatives and 66 employees took industrial action at the Ichthys LNG Project. 

FWBC alleges that at 10am on 22 October 2013, CFMEU Organiser Michael Huddy and the CFMEU’s onsite delegate Craig Tait held a meeting with workers at the Project. At the conclusion of this meeting, a vote was held and the workers resolved to stop work.  The focus of the meeting were demands by workers relating to the time that buses leave the Project each day.

FWBC alleges that the workers’ failure to return to work constituted unlawful industrial action. It also breached the workers’ obligation under their enterprise agreement to not leave their designated work area prior to their scheduled finish time. Furthermore, they failed to try and resolve the dispute using the dispute resolution clause in the agreement.

FWBC alleges that the industrial action was intended to coerce the employer to meet the workers’ demands regarding bus times.

FWBC alleges that the CFMEU through the actions of its organiser and on-site delegate were involved in the above breaches of the Fair Work Act with Mr Huddy at one point saying to the workers: “Don’t give in to these fellas. One day of protest is nothing compared to four years of twenty minutes every day”.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said unlawful activity in the Northern Territory was of grave concern. “FWBC has recently had to increase staffing levels and fly in investigators from interstate to assist with the surge in unlawful activity. FWBC is currently investigating a similar but more serious matter at this Project Site.

“Unlawful industrial action should not be written off by companies as the cost of doing business in Australia. It harms our image in the global workplace, especially in major projects like this with international support.”

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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