The ABCC commenced proceedings against the CEPU, the State Secretary of its Plumbing Division Gary O’Halloran and its official Andrew Blakely alleging that they organised unlawful industrial action, contravened right of entry laws and coerced a contractor at a site in Brisbane.
The ABCC is alleging that the contraventions occurred at the Southpoint A site in Brisbane, when Mr Blakely organised unlawful industrial action with the aim of pressuring a plumbing subcontractor to remove a project manager from the site.
It is alleged Mr O’Halloran later called to pressure the Queensland Manager of the Plumbing Subcontractor to remove the project manager. It is further alleged 25 Southpoint A employees engaged in unlawful industrial action.
In its statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Brisbane, the ABCC is alleging:
- On 30 November 2017, Mr Blakely sent the head contractor’s site manager an entry notice. Later that day, Mr Blakely called the site manager and said he would move a motion with the Southpoint A employees the next day to expel the plumbing subcontractor’s project manager from the site.
- The following day, Mr Blakely attended a meeting with the Southpoint A employees prior to their starting work at 6.30am. At the meeting, employees voted to not commence work until the project manager was removed from the site.
- Mr Blakely contravened right of entry laws by hindering and obstructing the subcontractor from carrying out work and acted in an improper manner when he organised the work stoppage.
- At about 9am, Mr O’Halloran called the Queensland Manager for the subcontractor and said words to the effect “if [the project manager] is removed from the site, I will have the boys return to work at 10.30am…”.
- The Southpoint A employees returned to work later that morning after being informed the project manager was no longer on site.
The ABCC is pursuing contraventions of the coercion and unlawful industrial action provisions in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), as well as right of entry provisions.
The maximum penalty per contravention under the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty per contravention under the FW Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.