On 27 November 2019 the ABCC commenced Federal Court action against the CFMMEU and two of its officials alleging they pressured a construction company to terminate its contract with a labour hire firm and replace it with one with a CFMMEU enterprise agreement.
At the time of the threat in March 2019, CPB Contractors had engaged a labour hire firm whose workers were members of the AWU. The firm also had an AWU enterprise agreement in place.
The ABCC is alleging CFMMEU organisers Dean Rielly and Paul Fitzpatrick threatened CPB that if it didn’t replace the subcontractor with one they recommended, the union would prevent precast products manufactured for the Coffs Harbour Hospital project from being delivered.
The termination of the contract would have affected up to 40 workers engaged by the labour hire firm.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging:
- On 25 January 2019 Mr Rielly met with CPB representatives where he said words to the effect that the company should make sure its workers are members of the CFMMEU.
- Mr Rielly advised the company against using the labour hire firm and said he would provide a list of preferred contractors associated with the CFMMEU for CPB to engage.
- On 4 March 2019 Mr Rielly told CPB’s project director the CFMMEU had a problem with workers at the company’s yard being AWU workers and that they needed to be CFMMEU workers.
- Mr Rielly also said the CFMMEU may have a problem with the yard’s precast products, which the union would prevent being delivered to the hospital project site.
- On 5 March Mr Rielly and Mr Fitzpatrick attended the yard where they met with the yard manager and production superintendent.
- During the meeting the CFMMEU officials again said unless all of the workers, including labour hire workers, at the yard were covered by a CFMMEU enterprise agreement any precast products manufactured for the Coffs Harbour Hospital would be prevented from being delivered.
- On 14 March Mr Rielly again phoned the project manager advising the company to get the workers at the yard to become members of the CFMMEU or replace them completely by engaging a labour hire company with a CFMMEU enterprise agreement.
The ABCC alleges the conduct contravenes the coercion and adverse action provisions in the Fair Work Act.
The maximum penalty for a contravention under the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.