The ABCC* commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMEU and five of its officials for allegedly organising unlawful work stoppages and breaching right of entry provisions on six separate occasions at the ‘180 Brisbane’ office tower construction site.
In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court the ABCC alleges:
- On 19 June 2014, the head contractor’s state manager wrote to the QLD branch of the CFMEU informing them that due to changes in the WHS Act, the contractor would require the union to submit entry notices to head office and that all officials would be required to present entry notices and entry permits when accessing construction sites.
- Subsequently between 26 June and 17 July 2014, five CFMEU officials attended the contractor’s site without adhering to these requirements:
- Assistant State Secretary Jade Ingham and Michael Myles on 26 June;
- Michael Myles again on 27 June;
- Kevin Griffin on both 1 and 4 July;
- Andrew Sutherland on 7 July; and
- Chad Bragdon on 17 July.
- On 26 June, Mr Ingham and Mr Myles entered the site with Mr Myles saying the purpose of the visit was to raise money for a fellow member who had been injured in Bali. The officials refused to produce entry notices when requested and held a meeting with workers. After the meeting 110 workers left the site and did not return.
- The following day, Mr Myles returned to site without providing entry notices. Mr Myles claimed there was an access issue with some of the stairs on site. When state WHS inspectors arrived to inspect the complaint, Mr Myles directed workers to stop work and sit in the sheds while inspectors were at the site. Despite the WHS inspectors finding the access to be adequate, workers who participated in the stop-work action failed to return to work.
- On each of the remaining four occasions between 1 and 17 July, the officials entered the site and held meetings with workers, resulting in work stoppages ranging between just over an hour to another full day.
- On each of the six occasions, the officials did not provide notice of entry and ignored site management’s advice that their entry was unlawful. On one occasion Mr Myles responded to this advice by saying the head contractor could “Go and get f—cked”.
The ABCC alleges that the work stoppages described above constitute unlawful industrial action, organised by the CFMEU. It is also alleged that the officials acted in an improper manner in breach of right of entry provisions under the Fair Work Act.
*This matter was originally filed by Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC). On 2 December 2016, FWBC became the ABCC.