Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union & Ors
Known as
Botany Cranes
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

NSD574/2019

Date filed
16 April 2019
State/Territory
QLD
Alleged breach(es) at time of filing
Coercion, Unlawful picketing
Status
Current
Summary at time of filing

The ABCC filed Federal Court proceedings against the CFMMEU and several of its NSW officials over alleged unlawful pickets of a Sydney-based crane company on 25 and 30 January 2019.

The allegations also include related threats made against the company’s managing director in October 2018.

The ABCC alleges the pickets and threats were aimed at coercing Botany Cranes to sign up to a CFMMEU enterprise agreement and reinstate a CFMMEU delegate.

In refusing to sign the EBA, Botany Cranes claimed the agreement would threaten the financial viability of the company.

The officials of the CFMMEU’s Construction & General Division named in the court proceedings include:

  • Darren Greenfield – NSW State Secretary
  • Rita Mallia – NSW President
  • Robert Kera – NSW Assistant Secretary
  • Michael Greenfield – NSW Assistant Secretary

Seven employees of Botany Cranes are also alleged to have engaged in an unlawful picket.

The ABCC's statement of claim, filed in the Federal Court at Sydney on 16 April 2019, alleges:

  • In October 2018 Robert Kera, Michael Greenfield and Darren Greenfield attended the yard and met with the employees of Botany Cranes for the purpose of discussing the proposed new EBA.
  • In a conversation separate from the meeting with the employees of Botany Cranes and to which the Botany Crane’s Managing Director, Darren Greenfield, Michael Greenfield and Robert Kera were parties, Darren Greenfield said words to the following effect:

“We are going to get our way here. You got a good business, you don’t want to f**k it. Just agree with everything in the EBA and let’s move on. You don’t want your blokes offsite, equipment damaged, cranes wrecked when in the end it’s going to be our way”

During the 25 January picket NSW police were required to assist Botany Cranes’ staff to enter and leave the premises.

During a conversation on 31 January, following the pickets, Michael Greenfield is alleged to have told a Botany Cranes’ representative words to the effect:

“If I were you, I’d f**kin sign it [the EBA]. You haven’t seen anywhere near bad yet. See what happened to WGC and Boom Logistics, and they had money, what do you think will happen to you?”

The ABCC is alleging the CFMMEU contravened the following sections of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (Cth) (BCIIP Act):

Section 47 (unlawful picketing); section 52 (coercion relating to allocation of duties to a particular person); and, section 54 (coercion of persons to make, vary, or terminate an EA).

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 an order for compensation and interest payable to Botany Cranes for loss and damage suffered as a result of contraventions of the BCIIP Act.

Related content

Media release - ABCC takes court action over unlawful picket of Sydney crane company