The ABCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court alleging the CFMMEU and two of its officials, including assistant Queensland state secretary Jade Ingham, engaged in coercion, adverse action and organised unlawful industrial action.
The alleged contraventions occurred at the 40 storey Qube project in Broadbeach in October 2017.
In its statement of claim filed in the Federal Court, the ABCC alleges that unlawful industrial action was triggered by an incident on 16 October 2017 where the CFMMEU site delegate verbally threatened and abused the health and safety advisor on site.
The ABCC further alleges Mr Ingham, union organiser Shaun Desmond and the CFMMEU coerced the head contractor to reinstate the site delegate, organised unlawful industrial action and engaged in adverse action against the head contractor.
In its statement of claim the ABCC alleges:
- on 16 October, following a safety walk, the site’s CFMMEU delegate abused the health and safety advisor for the site, moved into his personal space and asked him to ‘come out on the street and sort it out’;
- the site delegate was requested not to attend work the following day while the head contractor investigated the incident;
- on 17 October, Mr Desmond attended the site where he said words to the effect of: ‘my members are sitting in the shed until [the site delegate] is reinstated’, and ‘you need to sort this out or else you can watch grass grow on your site’;
- following a CFMMEU meeting organised by Mr Desmond, approximately 38 workers engaged in unlawful industrial action by refusing to work on the site;
- following a further meeting of workers on 18 October and attended by Mr Desmond and assistant state secretary Jade Ingham, approximately 46 workers took unlawful industrial action by walking off the site for the day;
- on 19 October following a discussion with workers, Mr Desmond told the project’s construction manager words to the effect that the workers would not return to work until such time as the site delegate was returned to work; and
- on 19 October, Mr Ingham obtained the agreement of the head contractor that the CFMMEU delegate and the health and safety advisor were to both be issued with warning letters and be allowed to return to site.
The ABCC is alleging the following contraventions against the CFMMEU, Mr Ingham and Mr Desmond:
- unlawful industrial action under s.46 of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCCIP Act)
- adverse action under s 346 of the Fair Work Act and
- coercion under s.348 of the Fair Work Act.
The maximum penalty per contravention under the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty per contravention under the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.