The CFMEU and ten officials have been penalised $590,800 for co-ordinated unlawful industrial action across multiple construction projects worth nearly half a billion dollars. 

The coordinated unlawful action saw workers walk off the job at nine projects, including four hospitals and an aged care centre across Melbourne and Geelong in April and May 2014:

  • $115m Epworth Hospital (Richmond)
  • $115m Geelong Hospital
  • $49m St John of God Hospital (Geelong)
  • $45m Geelong Library
  • $45m Aquanation centre (Ringwood)
  • $38m Emporia Apartments (Prahran)
  • $27m Owen Dixon Chambers (CBD)
  • $25m Mercy Hospital (Sandringham)
  • $20m BUPA aged care (Templestowe)

The Federal Court decision today highlighted that of the various stoppages “in no instance was there any suggestion of an issue or grievance, specific to the site or workers on it, that justified, or even explained, the organisation of the industrial action”

Rather, the Court found the “arrogant” and “high-handed” approach of the CFMEU and its officials led to the irresistible inference that the unlawful conduct “had the explicit object of inflicting commercial harm on [the contractor]”. 

This follows the Court’s comments in the liability judgment about the “transparently groundless invocation” of workplace safety as a pretext for one of the unlawful stoppages. 

The Federal Court today imposed penalties totalling $490,000 against the CFMEU and a total of $100,800 against the ten officials.

One official was penalised $7,600 for an “unjustified and gratuitous” disruption of work that had “nothing to do with any issue or grievance which the workers [on site] had”.

ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed today’s decision.

“These are substantial penalties for unlawful industrial action which stopped work on key public projects worth nearly half a billion dollars,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Today’s decision shows that the CFMEU cannot ignore its obligations under Australia’s workplace laws.

“The ABCC will continue to work towards ensuring all in the industry, whether workers, unions, or employers, comply with the law.  Flagrant disregard for workplace laws cannot be tolerated.”

For more information see the legal case summary