The ABCC has launched legal action against the CFMEU and its SA organiser Mark Gava claiming the official breached right of entry laws at an Adelaide construction site.
In the Federal Court the ABCC alleges Mr Gava purported to exercise a right of entry onto the $185m Flinders Medical Centre Transforming Health project site in December 2016 while knowing he did not have a valid right of entry permit.
The ABCC claims Mr Gava knew his permit had already expired before he went onto the site.
The CFMEU had previously applied to the Fair Work Commission for a new permit for Mr Gava in late November 2016 which had not been granted at the time of the alleged entry.
In a statement of claim lodged with the Court, the ABCC alleged that Mr Gava entered the construction site on 2 December 2016, when the following exchange took place:
[Site Manager]: “[A]re you aware your right of entry permit has expired”?
Gava: “No I am not aware of that. I didn’t know that, our office handles that, I’d be surprised if our girls didn’t know that”.
[Site Manager]: “Surely you must know”.
[Site Manager]: [Y]ou’ve been reported for a breach already for entering an entry notice without a permit. I am going to have to report you for being here.”
The ABCC alleges this conversation is in stark contrast to later admissions made by Mr Gava on oath in a FWC hearing that he knowingly entered the site without a permit.
Acting ABC Commissioner Cathy Cato said the laws made it clear that union officials require a valid permit to exercise statutory right of entry under the Fair Work Act.
“Holding a right of entry permit is a privilege, but with that privilege come obligations that must be respected,” Ms Cato said.
The maximum penalty for a breach of the Fair Work Act in this case is $54,000 for bodies corporate and $10,800 for individuals.
The matter is listed for a case management hearing on 20 December.