Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Communications Electrical Electronic Energy Information Postal Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia & Anor
Known as
Cairns Convention Centre
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link


Australian Building and Construction Commissioner
  • CEPU, Mitchell Brown
Date filed
Alleged breach(es)
Adverse action, Misrepresentation of workplace rights

Updated as of 6 November 2021

The ABCC commenced Federal Circuit Court proceedings on 27 August 2021 against the CEPU and a site delegate, Mitchell Brown, over allegations workers were deliberately delayed at the Cairns Convention Centre redevelopment because they were not members of the union.

The ABCC alleges Mr Brown, who was employed by Lendlease as the union site delegate, repeatedly stopped the workers from carrying out a routine drilling task, resulting in considerable delays, because they were not members of the CEPU.   

What was estimated to be a one-hour job as part of the $176 million centre expansion took two days for the workers to complete due to Mr Brown’s repeated demands to stop work.

It’s also alleged Mr Brown falsely told the workers’ employer that everyone working on the site needed to be a union member. 

During his interactions with the workers over several days, Mr Brown repeatedly asked the workers to join the CEPU and said words to the effect of “By the end of this site you’ll be joining the union”. 

In a meeting with the workers’ employer, Mr Brown said that all workers at the site needed to join the union, saying words to the effect:

“This is a union site. Everyone at the site needs to be in the union. Look, I just want members. Join the club. Make the job run smoothly”

“This is a government site. It is expected that all the workers on the site are union”.

The workers felt they needed to join the CEPU to ensure that Brown would stop interfering with their work and on 8 September 2020 the workers joined the CEPU, advising their employer they felt pressured to do so.

The ABCC is alleging Mr Brown and the CEPU engaged in contraventions of sections 346 and 349 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.

Note: All employees and contractors have the right to join or not join a union. This is called freedom of association. It can be unlawful for workers to be pressured by a union or by their employer to make a decision about joining, not joining or leaving a union.

Historical content

210831 - ABCC alleges one-hour job takes two days due to CEPU delegate interference on Cairns Convention Centre project