Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (Known as the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union) & Ors
Known as
The Australian Paper Case
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

VID212/2016

Applicant

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner

Respondent(s) at time of filing

AMWU, AWU, CFMEU, Steven Dodd, Jeff Sharp, Toby Thornton

Date filed
8 March 2016
State/Territory
VIC
Breach(es) found
Adverse action, Contravening an order of the FWC, Industrial action
Status
Finalised
Link to liability judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (The Australian Paper Case) [2017] FCA 167 (1 March 2017)

Link to penalty judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union (The Australian Paper Case) (No 2) [2017] FCA 367 (11 April 2017)

Summary of court decision

The Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $101,500 against the AMWU, CFMEU and AWU and three of their officials for their involvement in unlawful industrial action at a construction project at the Australian Paper Mill in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.

The unlawful action stopped work at the Mill’s de-inking project for three days in March 2014, continuing on the third day in defiance of orders from the Fair Work Commission that industrial action stop.

The Court found by involving themselves in the action, the officials “took advantage of the employees’ unlawful conduct to strengthen their hands in their negotiations with the companies”.

In the judgment, Justice Jessup singled out the CFMEU for what he described as its “appalling” prior record of non-compliance with industrial laws.

Justice Jessup noted the “normalisation of contraventions” by the CFMEU “has been the subject of comment by Judges on so many previous occasions that any further observation on my part here would amount to little more than stating the obvious”.

His Honour continued:

…if there is any union in the industrial universe which should be acutely aware of the importance of understanding the boundaries of lawful conduct in the prosecution of disputes, it is this one. Self-evidently, it does not care to do so.
Penalities

Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

CFMEU

$45,000

AMWU

$25,000

AWU $20,000

Steven Dodd

$4,500

Jeff Sharp

$3,500

Toby Thornton

$3,500

Total

$101,500

Total penalities

$101,500

Related content
Media release: Unions penalised $101,500 after strike action at Australian Paper site in Victoria