The ABCC has commenced Federal Circuit Court proceedings against the CFMMEU and two of its officials alleging they contravened right of entry provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 at the Armidale Secondary School construction project in New South Wales.
The ABCC alleges:
- On the morning of 8 April 2020 CFMMEU officials Dean Rielly and Paul Fitzpatrick entered the site by displacing security fencing, rather than entering through the site’s designated access point.
- Site representatives approached Rielly and Fitzpatrick and made several requests of them to attend the site office, sign in and complete a safety briefing, which they did not do.
- The requests included conversations to the effect of “You must come to the office and sign in” and “You have not received a safety briefing”, to which Rielly responded “Shut up, you’re an idiot”.
- Both CFMMEU officials continued to disregard requests from site representatives not to enter exclusion zones, after being told “It is not safe to enter, this is an exclusion zone, you need to do a toolbox talk and pre-start briefing before entering an exclusion zone”.
- Several requests to maintain social distancing were also ignored, with Rielly pushing past site representatives using his shoulder, speaking like a football commentator and saying, “He puts a step in and goes around him”.
- Rielly blocked an access path for around 30 minutes, preventing 10 workers from using the access way.
The ABCC is alleging the officials and the CFMMEU contravened section 500 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.
The ABCC is also seeking personal payment orders against Rielly and Fitzpatrick. Such an order requires the pecuniary penalty imposed by the Court to be paid personally by the officials and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU.