Case name
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Kurt Pauls & Ors
Known as
Watpac
Commonwealth Courts Portal reference and link

QUD831/2016

Applicant

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner

Respondent(s) at time of filing

CFMEU, Kurt Pauls, Justin Steele, Eddie Bland

Date filed
26 October 2016
State/Territory
QLD
Breach(es) found
Coercion, Industrial action
Status
Finalised
Link to liability and penalty judgement

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Pauls [2017] FCA 843

Summary of court decision

The Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $130,000 on the CFMEU and three of its officials for industrial action which shut down work at six projects across Brisbane, including Ronald McDonald House and the Commonwealth Games Velodrome site.

The CFMEU and the officials (Kurt Pauls, Justin Steele and Eddie Bland) admitted organising industrial action with the intention to coerce in contravention of sections 355 and 417 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

As part of the settlement of the case two CFMEU officials undertook right of entry training.

The targeted unlawful action saw work halted for two days at six Queensland projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars on 19 and 20 August 2016:

  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Commonwealth Games Velodrome project
  • Mary Street Project
  • Southpoint Project
  • Newstead Apartments Project
  • Pullman Ibis Hotel and Convention Centre Project, Brisbane Airport.

The Federal Court found the industrial action was aimed to pressure the head contractor to only use subcontractors who had enterprise agreements with the CFMEU or into consulting the union before engaging subcontractors.

In his judgment, Justice Rangiah said the “conduct was designed to disrupt the six projects and cause [the head contractor] economic harm.”

The Court said the respondents' attempts to coerce the contractor into “acceding to the CFMEU's industrial agenda must be regarded as a very serious matter.”

Justice Rangiah said the courts have repeatedly emphasised the need for specific deterrence of the union’s conduct, saying: “The CFMEU has a very extensive history of contraventions of industrial laws.”

Penalities

Penalties awarded against

Penalties awarded

CFMEU

$100,000

Kurt Pauls

$10,000

Justin Steele

$10,000

Eddie Bland

$10,000

Total

$130,000

Total penalities

$130,000

Related content
Media release: CFMEU penalised $130,000 for industrial action at six Brisbane projects