The Federal Circuit and Family Court has penalised the CFMMEU and two of its officials $114,660 for hindering and obstructing contractors during construction of the $4.9 billion Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade project near Grafton in northern New South Wales.

The penalty follows the Court finding that on 22 August 2019 CFMMEU officials Dean Rielly and Paul Fitzpatrick refused to follow lawful directions and prevented a concrete pour from occurring.

The Court found that the officials entered an exclusion zone, positioned themselves behind a concrete truck and refused to move when requested to do so.

Their actions resulted in the concrete pour being abandoned and six cubic metres of concrete wasted, with one and a half days of work time lost because of the officials’ actions.

Judge Humphreys found both officials and the CFMMEU breached the Fair Work Act by intentionally hindering and obstructing the contractors by preventing the concrete pour.

Judge Humphrey’s said of Mr Rielly’s actions:

“The Court is satisfied that Mr Rielly took the lead role in the contraventions. At all times, Mr Rielly deliberately and intentionally refused to move away from the back of the concrete agitator until after the concrete pour was abandoned.”

Describing the CFMMEU Judge Humphreys said:

“This is a Union which has a long and troubled history of breaches of the relevant workplace legislation. It is a Union that appears to have a preferred mode of business that accepts prosecution for breaches of the relevant legislation as an occupational hazard, and presumably the imposition of pecuniary penalties in the same casual manner.”

In assessing the level of penalty Judge Humphreys went on to say the Court has:

“… taken account that no remorse or contrition has been evidenced by the CFMMEU, and accordingly, no reduction in penalty is available in relation to this factor. Further, that has been no cooperation with the applicant post the initiation of the proceedings, and indeed, it would be fair to say that the prosecution has been very hard fought at every stage.”

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the judgment highlighted the seriousness of the unlawful conduct.

“The actions of the CFMMEU, Mr Rielly and Mr Fitzpatrick were deliberate and unlawful.

“The disruption of a concrete pour triggers delays, loss of productivity, financial loss and an environmental cost. Regrettably, this is an all-too-common strategy for which the CFMMEU offers no apology, no contrition and no remorse.

“Disruption to concrete pours is a recurring feature in successful prosecutions brought by my Agency against the CFMMEU, including:

  • Marine Parade ($102,000 in penalties)
  • Kiama Aged Care Centre ($184,000 in penalties)[1]
  • Nine Brisbane Sites ($668,000 in penalties)
  • Footscray Station Case ($242,000 in penalties)
  • Perth Children’s Hospital ($107,500 in penalties)

Any building industry participant who needs advice or assistance regarding right of entry should contact the ABCC on 1800 003 338.

 

Respondent

Penalties imposed

CFMMEU

$100,800

Dean Rielly

$8,820

Paul Fitzpatrick

$5,040

Total penalties

$114,660

 

Litigation results since 2 December 2016

  • The ABCC has achieved a successful outcome in 103 of 112 cases resolved, with a total of 2,528 contraventions.
  • The Courts have imposed $17,980,578 in penalties against all respondents ($1,891,628 subject to appeal or further decision).
  • The ABCC has achieved a successful outcome in 84 of 92 cases resolved against the CFMMEU, with a total of 1,681 contraventions.
  • The Courts have imposed $16,126,923 in penalties against the CFMMEU and its representatives since 2 December 2016 ($1,647,628 subject to appeal or further decision).

 

 

[1] This matter is currently under appeal

Media Release
5 August 2022