The ABCC has commenced Federal Court action against the CEPU and four of its officials following separate incidents at the Sydney Metro Trains Facility Site in Rouse Hill on 17 and 18 October and 14 December 2016.
It is alleged on 17 October CEPU officials Antony Stegic, Michael Hopper and Stewart Edward organised a day-long stop work of employees undertaking electrical work on the project. The stoppage continued until 10.30am the following day.
The ABCC is also alleging that on 14 December Mr Stegic and fellow CEPU organiser Frederick Barbin caused work on the Rouse Hill site to stop after the pair ignored safety instructions and accessed work areas unaccompanied and without wearing the required protective clothing.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging:
- On 17 October 2016, Mr Edward entered the site and went to the induction room where employees were gathered. Mr Edward stood at the doorway to the induction room and had the following exchange with the employer’s representatives:
Senior Project Manager: "We need to talk to the guys, we have to talk to the guys it is our right to talk with the guys. We need to explain to them their rights. We need to explain to them that they have to go back to work and that the action they are taking at the moment is not right"
Mr Edward: raised his voice and said "You're not f**king seeing these guys"
- Mr Edward blocked the doorway which prevented the Senior Project Manager from entering the induction room.
- On 14 December 2016, Mr Stegic and Mr Barbin ignored safety requirements on site and directions from the Area Safety Manager who told them:
"You guys can't enter site unattended and dressed like that. It is a condition of entry to site that you are appropriately dressed and accompanied at all times. You do not have gloves, protected eyewear, long sleeve shirts and lace up ankle steel cap boots";
The ABCC alleges the union officials contravened sections 417, 499 and 500 of the Fair Work Act by:
- organising the employees’ failure to commence work and perform their duties at the Rouse Hill site;
- hindering or obstructing the employees from commencing and performing their duties on the project
- preventing management from speaking to their employees by physically blocking access to the employees and actively opposing efforts to get the employees to return to work; and
- Ignoring safety instruction on 14 December while on the Rouse Hill site.
The ABCC also claims Mr Hopper and the CEPU contravened section 475 of the Fair Work Act by seeking strike pay for the employees.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $ 54,000 for a body corporate and $10,800 for an individual.
A first case management hearing was held on Friday 26 April, 2019 in the Federal Court in Sydney.