On 7 March 2019, the Federal Circuit Court imposed total penalties of $55,080 against the CFMMEU and its site delegate after he pressured a landscaper to join the union despite only being contracted to work on a Grand Central Shopping Centre site in Toowoomba for a couple of days.
The CFMMEU was penalised $48,600 which is 90 per cent of the maximum fine. The CFMMEU’s site delegate, Peter D’Arcy was penalised $6,480.
Mr D’Arcy admitted that he made a reckless misrepresentation to the worker that he had to join the union prior to a site induction at the Grand Central Shopping Centre site on 27 March 2017.
The Court heard Mr D’Arcy entered the induction room on site and questioned workers on whether they were union members. When the landscaper told Mr D’Arcy he was no longer in the union, Mr D’Arcy said he would “have to re-join the [Union]”. The following exchange then took place:
Worker: “what if I don’t join the Union?”
Mr D’Arcy: “That’s fine, but you can’t work here, you’ll have to go and work somewhere else.”
When another worker heard this exchange and said words to the effect “Isn’t that illegal?”, Mr D’Arcy said “if you want to work here then you have to be part of the union”.
In response to a question from the first worker about how much the CFMMEU membership would cost, Mr D’Arcy said it would be around $500. The following exchange then occurred:
Worker: “I’m only up here for a couple of days. So I’m basically coming up here to work for nothing.”
Mr D’Arcy: “Well, that’s just the way it is.”
In his judgment Judge Egan said Mr D’Arcy’s conduct had the effect of promoting a “closed union shop”. He also said Mr D’Arcy’s behaviour had “effectively, and practically, an element of coercion.”
“The worker would effectively be working to pay the union its dues rather than working for his own monetary gain. After paying the union fee, the worker would have had nothing to show for his having provided his labour.”
“The conduct on the part of [Mr D’Arcy], when told by the worker that he would be working for nothing if he signed both forms [union membership and payroll deduction forms], was one of indifference to the plight of the worker.”
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