The ABCC has launched proceedings against the AMWU and two of its organisers after they allegedly threatened to shut down a Melbourne site unless the employer hired several workers.
It is alleged that AMWU organisers Zeljko Cimbora and Toby Paterson made the threat at the NewCold 1 site office on 17 October 2017.
In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Melbourne, the ABCC alleges:
- On Tuesday 3 October 2017 at a meeting at the NewCold 1 site Mr Cimbora requested that NewCold employ several workers.
- On 17 October 2017 a meeting was held between Mr Cimbora, Mr Paterson and a number of NewCold’s senior managers about hiring the workers.
- During the conversation, Mr Paterson said: “Are you going to hire these people, otherwise we are going to give you a lot of problems and shut you down.”
- One of the NewCold managers replied: “Do you expect us to get rid of people we’ve employed, who are local Australian guys?”
- Mr Cimbora replied: “Yes”
- When the NewCold managers refused to agree to this demand, Mr Cimbora said:
“Tomorrow morning we’re going to block all your gates. You won’t get any trucks in or out of this place. We’re going to make sure you get bad PR. We’re going to have the newspapers here, the radio here. We’re going to get the other unions involved, you’re going to have health and safety issues.”
The ABCC alleges the conduct in the case contravenes the coercion provision of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act).
The maximum penalty for a breach of the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for bodies corporate and $42,000 for individuals.