On 13 September 2019, the Federal Court handed down penalties totaling $34,500 against the CFMMEU and its former official Brendan Murphy after Mr Murphy was found to have intentionally hindered and obstructed construction work at the Geelong Grammar school on 3 December 2014 December 2014.
Mr Murphy was found to have entered the Geelong Grammar construction site without providing notice and refusing to show his entry permit for inspection. He then refused multiple requests to leave the site and called a meeting of workers. Following the meeting he told the site manager he would not leave until everyone was off the site because he was not happy with the subcontractors that had been engaged. A number of workers left the site and work ceased.
Mr Murphy later phoned both the general manager and the project manager of the head contractor to complain that the subcontractors were not covered by enterprise agreements and that the CFMMEU had not been informed that the project had commenced. Mr Murphy told the project manager words to the effect that “You’re sh*tting in my backyard… I’m going to shut down this site.”
Mr Murphy threatened that he would be back the next day to make sure the site wasn’t open.
In an earlier liability judgment the Federal Court rejected Mr Murphy’s claim that he was concerned about safety at the site with Justice Mortimer saying:
“I am not satisfied there was any real health and safety issue, despite Mr Murphy’s references to people working in the dark.”
In handing down the penalty judgment Justice Mortimer took into account Mr Murphy’s conduct, including:
“…his aggression, his language, the interference with work on the site, the refusing to leave when told to, the contrived OH&S concerns, the threats not to allow the site to re-open.”
Her Honour went on to say Mr Murphy’s conduct was:
“… confrontational, aggressive and rude. Mr Murphy was bullying and overbearing, and deliberately so.”
Justice Mortimer said of the CFMMEU:
“This level of contravening conduct can only indicate a continuing readiness to disregard and flout the industrial laws of this country, when it suits the CFMMEU and its officials to do so.”
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