On 6 December 2019, the Federal Court handed down penalties of $270,000 against the CFMMEU for unlawfully picketing two Melbourne construction sites in 2017.
The CFMMEU was penalised $215,000 and its organisers Kane Pearson $20,000, and John Perkovic $20,000. CFMMEU member Mario Raspudic was penalised $15,000.
The CFMMEU was also ordered to pay the ABCC’s legal costs.
The CFMMEU admitted to organising a blockade on 8 May 2017 during construction of two cold storage warehouses at NewCold.
Mr Perkovic and a group of other men blocked access to one site when they stood next to a CFMMEU SUV that was parked across the entry gate.
When told he was trespassing and asked to leave, Mr Perkovic and others surrounded two managers at the site with one of the group saying “P*ss off, we’re here, we’re staying.”
Around the same time, at the second NewCold site, Mr Pearson, Mr Raspudic and a group of other men stood next to another CFMMEU SUV parked across the driveway and restricted access to a number of concrete trucks, subcontractors, office staff and employees of a potential customer.
In his judgment, Justice O’Callaghan said:
… Mr Perkovic and Mr Kane behaved with an apparent sense of impunity, including when Mr Pearson said that the car was broken down and that he could not move it and when Mr Perkovic said that he had “lost” his car keys.
He went on to say of the CFMMEU:
…the CFMMEU is a large organisation with significant financial resources. It has a prior history that has been recorded and characterised in many decisions of this courts over many years…, demonstrating its apparent willingness to contravene industrial laws in a serious way. And, of course, there is the need for deterrence of an organisation of its size.
The CFMMEU was also criticised by the Court for “thumbing its nose” at the ABCC for refusing to comply with statutory notices to produce evidence.