Case name
The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union & Ors
Known as
The Quest Apartments Case
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

VID406/2016

Applicant

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner

Respondent(s) at time of filing

CFMEU, Arteam Pty Ltd, Godwin Farrugia, Michael Hanna

Date filed
4 May 2016
State/Territory
VIC
Breach(es) found
Coercion
Status
Finalised
Link to liability judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (The Quest Apartments Case) [2017] FCA 1398.

Link to penalty judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (The Quest Apartments Case) (No 2) [2018] FCA 163

Director of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy union (Quest Apartments and Greek Community Centre) [2016] FCA 1262

Summary of court decision

ABCC* filed proceedings in the Federal Court against Melbourne painting company Arteam, its director Mr Hanna, the CFMEU and its delegate Mr Farrugia, alleging that they attempted to stop two workers, who were not financial members of the CFMEU, from working on the Quest Apartments construction site in Melbourne.

On 26 February 2018, the Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $105,000 against the CFMEU and Mr Farrugia after it found that at a site induction on 17 March 2014, CFMEU shop steward Godwin Farrugia asked the workers about their union membership saying:

You haven’t paid [your membership]. You need to fix it. I can't let you work if you're not paid up”.

One worker asked to be given a month to pay his fees because he had not worked in three months and accumulated household bills. The shop steward responded by saying, “I can’t give you that long. I give you two days.

To the other worker, Mr Farrugia said words to the effect that: “if you don’t pay the union cards, you can’t work in here because this job is for the union. This job is a union site...if you want to be working you have to have a union card.”

In the judgment today, the Court said the CFMEU shop steward was “enforcing a ‘no ticket no start’ regime on the site”:

“Neither the CFMEU nor Mr Farrugia exhibited any contrition for their misconduct; nor… did they acknowledge error and undertake to avoid repetition [of the misconduct].

Arteam, and its director Michael Hanna had previously admitted to contravening the Fair Work Act for saying all its workers needed to be CFMEU members to work on the site. The company and Mr Hanna were penalised a total $20,000 for the contraventions.

Mr Hanna admitted to sending a text message to workers on 11 March 2014 stating that they must have valid union memberships before starting work at two Melbourne projects where Arteam had been engaged. Mr Hanna sent a further text message reinforcing this statement on 27 March 2014.

In handing down the $20,000 penalty, Justice Tracey said it was important that penalties acted as an effective deterrent for other employers in the industry:

“There are thousands of small contractors involved in the construction industry. Many are, potentially, susceptible to pressure to require employees to join a union, fearing that if they do not do so they will not be engaged to work on commercial construction sites.”

His Honour found that the contraventions were evidence of the culture that exists within parts of the construction industry:

“Mr Hanna had become immersed in the culture of at least some commercial construction sites on which compulsory union membership was accepted by both employers and employees.”

*This matter was originally filed by Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC). On 2 December 2016, FWBC became the ABCC.
Penalities

Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

CFMEU

$95,000

Godwin Farrugia

$10,000

Arteam

$17,600

Michael Hanna

$2,400

Total

$125,000

Total penalities

$125,000

Related content

Media release: Court penalises CFMEU “gatekeeper” for enforcing ‘no-ticket, no-start’ on Melbourne construction site