The ABCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court against the CFMMEU and three of its officials alleging right of entry contraventions at the Queensland Performing Arts Complex (QPAC) construction site.
The ABCC alleges on 5 November 2020 CFMMEU officials Andrew Blakeley and Michael Ravbar entered the QPAC site without providing the required 24 hours’ notice of entry, failed to comply with the site's occupational health and safety requirements, remained on the site and attended a meeting with workers on the site without authorisation.
It is also alleged that Mr Blakeley intimidated the head contractors' employees to gain access to the site, together with a group of 10 to 12 people who were not workers on the site and had not undertaken a site induction.
The CFMMEU site delegate Peter Bransdon is alleged to have intentionally engaged in conduct that supported Mr Blakeley and Mr Ravbar’s improper conduct.
A meeting room across the street from the site had been booked for a meeting, but on the day Mr Bransdon, Mr Blakeley and the group of 10 to 12 people approached the site entrance.
Despite being reminded that an off-site meeting room had been organised and that the group were not permitted on the site, Mr Blakeley responded by saying “we are not going to an off-site meeting room, we are coming on site, we’re f**king coming on”.
It is alleged Mr Blakeley and Mr Bransdon then stepped towards the employees in an intimidatory manner, with Mr Blakeley standing face-to-face with less than 20cm between him and one of the employees. The employees felt intimidated and uncomfortable and stepped backwards away from the union officials.
Mr Bransdon or Mr Blakeley then said to the group “c'mon boys, come through" and the group walked onto site and directly to the lunchroom without reporting to the site office.
It is alleged Mr Ravbar arrived at the site a few minutes later, with Mr Bransdon and Mr Blakeley exiting the site to meet him. Mr Blakeley and Mr Ravbar were told they weren’t allowed on site and they could hold their meeting at the meeting room off-site. Mr Bransdon responded by saying “we’re coming on” and the three union officials entered the site and walked directly to the lunchroom and held the meeting.
The ABCC alleges Mr Ravbar and Mr Blakeley contravened section 500 of the Fair Work Act by acting in an improper manner. It is also alleged that Mr Bransdon was involved in Mr Ravbar’s and Mr Blakeley’s contraventions of section 500 of the Fair Work Act.
The maximum penalty for a contravention of the Fair Work Act is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.
The ABCC is also seeking personal payment orders against Mr Blakeley and Mr Ravbar, which would require the pecuniary penalty imposed by the Court to be paid personally by the officials and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the union.