Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (AMWU) & Ors
Known as
NewCold (AMWU)
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link


Australian Building and Construction Commissioner
Date filed
Breach(es) found
Date finalised
Link to penalty judgment

Summary of court decision

The Federal Court on 27 March penalised the AMWU and an official $112,000 for threatening to coerce Victorian company Newcold to dismiss its workers and replace them with members of the AMWU.

The Court found AMWU organiser Zeljko Cimbora threatened to shut down construction of Newcold’s cold storage distribution centre in Melbourne’s west, in October 2017, unless the company employed several members of the union.

During a meeting with Newcold management, a company representative asked Mr Cimbora words to the effect of: “Do you expect us to get rid of the people we’ve employed, who are local Australian guys?” Mr Cimbora replied “Yes”.

Mr Cimbora said if the company did not put AMWU members “back on the job”, the union would “block all gates”, “get the other unions involved” and “have hundreds of people” preventing access to the construction site.

In handing down his penalty Justice O’Callaghan said:

“In my view, it is appropriate to impose a penalty of $12,000 on Mr Cimbora and a penalty of $100,000 on the AMWU. The former is obviously in the low range agreed by the parties, which is appropriate given Mr Cimbora’s contrition, his post-offence training, that he has not previously contravened any industrial legislation, and his relatively early cooperation.

The AMWU rightly seeks credit for offering the training program that was the subject of evidence, and for its cooperation. And it has also agreed to pay the applicant’s costs fixed in the sum of $10,000.

But it has contravened industrial legislation on 11 occasions between 2003 and 2017, so there is a need for specific deterrence, even recognising that no relevant conduct has occurred since 2017. In those circumstances, a penalty of $100,000 is appropriate.”

The AMWU was also required to pay $10,000 in costs.

The case is the first involving the AMWU since the ABCC was re-established on 2 December 2016.

Total Penalties
Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

AMWU $100,000
Zeljko Cimbora $12,000
Total $112,000