The ABCC has commenced Federal Court action against the CFMMEU and seven officials alleging they targeted Wollongong crane company WGC Cranes and its workers as part of a campaign to coerce the company to sign up to a new CFMMEU enterprise agreement.
During the campaign it is alleged WGC Cranes’ workers were spat at, called dogs and scabs and were photographed and filmed with images being uploaded on to the CFMMEU’s Facebook page where they were further subjected to abuse and intimidation.
In its statement of claim filed in the Federal Court, the ABCC is alleging:
Over several days in October 2018 WGC’s cranes were prevented from operating, union vehicles were used to block cranes and CFMMEU officials abused and photographed many of the company’s workers who were subsequently threatened on social media.
The union’s campaign occurred between 15 and 23 October 2018 and across multiple sites in Wollongong and Sydney.
On several occasions CFMMEU officials entered restricted work areas while cranes were operating without following safety procedures or wearing protective equipment – causing work to stop.
CFMMEU official Anthony Burke took the keys from a truck being operated by a WGC Cranes’ supervisor. When asked to return them he responded with words to the effect:
“I am keeping them and I am taking the keys to the f****ng crane. I am going to put you down!”
Mr Burke was also involved in an altercation with another WGC Cranes’ supervisor where words to the effect: “We know where you live and we’ll get you.” were yelled at the supervisor, who was also spat at.
On another occasion, CFMMEU official Gerasimos Danalis told a worker words to the effect: “You think you are providing for your family? You’re nothing but a scab piece of shit, you dog.”
On 16 October 2018 CFMMEU officials’ Gerasimos Danalis and Jesse Strand entered a restricted area of the Port Kembla Coal Terminal site where cranes were operating.
At the time of the entry the pair were not wearing safety equipment and ignored repeated requests to leave the restricted area.
During the entry one of the CFMMEU officials activated an emergency stop button on a crane causing it to stop suddenly.
The ABCC alleges the conduct contravenes the coercion and adverse action provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Building and Construction Industry Improving Productivity Act 2016 (BCIIP Act).
The allegations follow an earlier matter filed in the Federal Court where the CFMMEU is accused of using similar tactics to target Sydney crane company Botany Cranes.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual. The maximum penalty for each contravention of the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual.