On 12 December 2019, the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney imposed penalties totalling $156,900 against the CFMMEU and two of its officials after they contrived safety concerns against a crane company and organised work stoppages at three sites.
CFMMEU organiser Anthony Sloane and former organiser Luke Collier organised a crane company’s employees to stop work at:
- the Ku-ring-gai Hospital Redevelopment in Hornsby
- the Icon Urbanest student accommodation site in Ultimo
- residential apartments in Erskineville.
The Court found the union officials’ conduct was not motivated by a genuine concern for the health and safety of the crane company’s employees, but as a means to inconvenience the company.
The two union officials’ conduct was aimed at pressuring the crane company to retain a CFMMEU site delegate.
The CFMMEU was penalised $135,000, Mr Sloane $15,200 and Mr Collier $6,700.
In his judgment, Judge Cameron said:
These were serious contraventions.
The absence of any form of contrition, and the maintenance of a defence which was signally lacking in merit, suggest that the respondents, particularly the CFMMEU and Mr Sloane, did not really take this proceeding or the contraventions which underlie it seriously.
..the contraventions were a form of extortion and it cannot be doubted that they were a discrete campaign. … the inconvenience Mr Sloane caused to Reds Global on 24 March 2014 was based on a contrivance. Those are serious matters.
The union and its officials were found to have undertaken adverse action against the crane company in contravention of the Fair Work Act. They were also found to have contravened right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act by acting in an improper manner.