On 2 September 2019, the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane penalised Forest Meiers Construction and its construction manager a total of $35,000 for refusing to engage subcontractor C&K Tiling because the company did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU.
The penalty followed a compensation and interest order on 26 June 2019 where Forest Meiers was ordered to pay the tiling subcontractor $240,000 (which included $40,000 interest).
On 24 February 2014, the tiling company submitted a tender to Forest Meiers for its Remora Road project in Hamilton, with the tiling company ultimately becoming the preferred bidder for the project.
During a meeting on 18 July 2014, Forest Meiers Construction Manager William Munro told the tiling company’s Managing Director: “The [CFMMEU] contacted me at around 5:00 yesterday. They threatened action on the site if we signed you up.”
In handing down the penalty judgment, Judge Jarrett said:
“despite having the best price for the tiling works, a competitor was engaged whose price was some $300,000 more than that tendered by C&K. … such behaviour is not only to the detriment of victims such as C&K, but to the industry and the community at large."
His Honour went on to say:
Mr Munro and Forest Meiers deliberately chose to contravene the Fair Work Act. The evidence clearly establishes that faced with two commercially unpalatable alternatives, they chose the one which led Forest Meiers to knowingly contravene the Fair Work Act, rather than to take a stance against the CFMEU.
Forest Meiers’s conduct against C&K has the potential to perpetuate a culture of submission in the building and construction industry where economic duress is able to be applied to subcontractors to force them to become covered by an enterprise agreement that also covers a union.
|Penalties awarded||Penalties awarded against|
|Forest Meiers Construction||$32,000|