The ABCC filed Federal Court proceedings on 4 September 2020 against Consolidated Power Projects Australia (CPP) and four staff members alleging the company banned and subsequently terminated a subcontractor because it did not have a union enterprise agreement.
In August 2019, CPP engaged the subcontractor to install high voltage electrical equipment at the Springvale Terminal Station Project in Melbourne.
The ABCC is alleging that soon afterwards CPP banned the subcontractor from the site and subsequently terminated its contract because the company did not have an enterprise agreement.
Four CPP staff have also been named as respondents including CPP’s president and three managers.
In its statement of claim, the ABCC alleges the following discussions took place:
On 14 August 2019, CPP’s regional manager told the subcontractor’s director words to the effect:
“I have some bad news. The ETU [Electrical Trades Union] have found out about us winning the Springvale Terminal Project and that we intend to use [subcontractor] as a labour resource. The ETU are unhappy that [subcontractor] will be utilised on the project.”
The following day on the site a CPP project manager spoke to the subcontractor’s director and requested the company leave the site until they resolved issues they were having with the ETU. The project manager said words to the effect:
“I understand why the union is there, though I don’t really agree with it. I have been asked if you can leave the site and carry on with preparatory works offsite until we can get a resolution.”
On 16 August 2019 the regional manager told the subcontractor’s director words to the effect:
“We can’t use you on site as you don’t have an EBA, and the ETU aren’t happy. We don’t want to have to deal with that.”
CPP also engaged another electrical subcontractor. When the subcontractor’s director asked why his company was being asked to match CPP’s proposed pay rates while the other subcontractor did not have to, CPP’s regional manager said words to the effect:
“It’s because they have a union EBA in place”.
On 4 October 2019 the subcontractor’s contract was terminated.
The ABCC is alleging that by banning the subcontractor from performing work on the project and subsequently terminating its contract because it was not covered by an enterprise agreement with the union, CPP breached section 55(1) of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act).
The ABCC also alleges four CPP managers were involved in CPP’s contraventions of the BCIIP Act.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The ABCC is also seeking compensation from CPP for the loss and damage suffered by the subcontractor.