The ABCC has taken court action against the New South Wales division of the CFMMEU and five of its officials over their alleged actions during a picket at a Newcastle building site in October 2021.
The picket was allegedly organised when the principal contractor of the $42 million Huntington Apartment project refused to sign an enterprise agreement with the union.
The ABCC is alleging in its statement of claim that during the period 7 October to 12 October 2021:
- Workers attempting to access the site were subjected to abuse including being called ‘f***ing scabs, dogs and grubs’.
- During the dispute up to 40 picketers led by CFMMEU NSW state secretary Robert Kera and organisers: Brendan Holl; Mark Cross; Joseph Uati and Karl Hitchcock, chanted slogans, waved CFMMEU flags and constantly used megaphones and sirens to intimidate the workers.
- The picket resulted in several crane companies engaged to lift concrete decks into place and erect site lifts refusing to work, as did a number of scaffolders.
- Workers of the head contractor who continued to work were continually harassed, received abusive text messages referring to them as ‘scabs’ and told they would never work in Newcastle again.
- The picketers’ actions caused anxiety and distress to the workers and discouraged and prevented them from working on site.
On 12 October 2021 it’s alleged:
- CFMMEU officials Brendan Holl and Troy Davis without permission, climbed the ladder of a tower crane while it was operating. The officials then started shaking the crane’s ladders and refused repeated calls to climb off the crane.
- Due to the officials' intrusion on the crane, work was immediately stopped, and the crane operator advised to lock the hatch door. As a result of the official's actions, the tower crane did not operate for the remainder of the day.
The ABCC is alleging the CFMMEU; and its officials contravened sections 348, 500 and 503 of the Fair Work Act 2009, with a total of 14 alleged contraventions.
The maximum penalty for a contravention of the Fair Work Act is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.