29 January 2016CEPU and union official in court for allegedly threatening Bendigo contractor

A Bendigo-based plumbing company has allegedly been threatened with exclusion from a number of local construction projects unless it signed an enterprise agreement with the CEPU, according to documents filed in the Federal Court.

Fair Work Building and Construction is taking court action against the plumbing division of the CEPU and union official Neil O’Brien for the alleged threats.

According to the FWBC’s statement of claim, the director of the plumbing company met with the CEPU officials to discuss entering into an enterprise agreement for the purpose of the Bendigo Hospital project.

At a subsequent meeting the director of the plumbing company disclosed that he was also tendering for work on the Lansell Square and Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre projects.

It is alleged that Mr O’Brien then issued a threat to the director saying his company would be excluded from those projects unless it made an enterprise agreement with the CEPU’.

Referring to the Lansell Square and Malmsbury projects, Mr O’Brien allegedly said: “You will not be doing that job unless you sign this agreement. (Company) will not get that job if they don’t have a union EBA.

“We will cripple (company). You will sign, we will force you to sign, we will force the builders not to take you on their works. Because these jobs will be up in the country, we will put so much pressure on them in the metro area it won’t be viable for them to take you.”

FWBC Acting Director Brian Corney said using threats to coerce a company to sign an enterprise agreement was unlawful under the Fair Work Act 2009.

“Every Australian has the right to make agreements that govern their workplace arrangements and entitlements. Using threats to coerce people to make agreements is unlawful and has no place in our working environment,” Mr Corney said.

A directions hearing has been scheduled for 11 March 2016.

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