The ABCC filed proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMEU and CFMEU officials Stephen Long and Drew MacDonald, alleging that they had contravened the Fair Work Act by entering construction sites controlled by Qanstruct (Aust) Pty Ltd in 2014.
Following a liability hearing held on 27 June 2016, the Federal Court dismissed the ABCC’s application. The ABCC appealed this decision.
The Full Federal Court allowed the ABCC's appeal and the matter was remitted to the Federal Court for further hearing.
On 21 June 2019 the Federal Court penalised the CFMMEU, Mr Long and Mr MacDonald $119,300 over repeated unlawful entries and making threats while on Qanstruct's Laverton North and Cheltenham construction sites in 2014. The Court also ordered that Mr Long and Mr MacDonald personally pay their penalties.
This is only the third time personal payment orders have been made against building and construction union officials.
The Court found both officials entered the construction sites on four separate occasions without providing the required 24 hours’ notice and refused to show their right of entry permits when requested to do so.
On 27 February, at the Cheltenham site, in response to a request to produce his permit, Mr Long said: “We are not going down that path, are we? … Even if I’ve got a permit, that’s our policy that we don’t show it.”
When advised by the site manager that he would call the police Mr Long told the manager: “You … don’t want to be the dog who calls the cops on a union official … [W]e won’t forget this low act. We won’t forget that you did this.”
After the site manager told Mr Long he had called the police, Mr Long made the following threat: “We will have 500 blokes on site here tomorrow, we won’t sign an EBA with you, next year you guys will be on nothing. Your wages will drop and you blokes will be on nothing.”
Justice Bromberg in his judgment said:
“…the conduct was part of a deliberate and orchestrated campaign, which had the express or tacit approval of more senior officials of the CFMMEU.”
He went on to say:
“ The CFMMEU, and in particular the Divisional Branch, has an appallingly long history of prior contraventions of industrial laws.” “… There is no evidence before me of the CFMMEU taking any compliance action to counsel, educate or inform MacDonald or Long in order to prevent the reoccurrence of contravening conduct by them in the future. Nor is there any evidence before me of any compliance regime ever put in place by the CFMMEU to address its long history of prior contraventions.”
In highlighting the repeated pattern of behaviour of the CFMMEU’s senior leadership, the Court concluded that
“such behaviour was condoned by the senior leadership of the organisation.”
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