18 April 2016CFMEU and official fined $52,000: Judge described union record as ‘woeful’

Penalties of $52,000 have been ordered against the CFMEU and one of its officials, Michael ‘Mick’ Myles for instigating unlawful industrial action at the $60 million Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Kelvin Grove project.

In May 2014, Mr Myles attended the QUT site and ordered a meeting of workers in an adjacent car park. Following the meeting, Mr Myles approached the head contractor and demanded the site manager be stood down from the project for a day. When the head contractor refused to comply with the demand the workers who had attended the meeting failed to perform any work that day.

In a recent decision handed down in the Federal Circuit Court, Judge Jarrett described the CFMEU’s prior history of non-compliance with workplace laws as “woeful” in handing down near maximum penalties on the union and Mr Myles.

Judge Jarrett found Mr Myles’ conduct to be “a deliberate and intention disregard of workplace laws”.

“The sole purpose (of Myles’ actions) was to restrict the duties of the site manager – a single employee of (head contractor) – whose role it was to manage the QUT Project site. The stoppage caused delays, inconvenience and cost to (head contractor). The action was calculated to do so, so that it had a coercive effect upon (head contractor).

Judge Jarrett also criticised the CFMEU’s prior record and expressed doubt over whether Mr Myles of the CFMEU would comply with workplace laws in the future.

“Neither Mr Myles nor the CFMEU have expressed any contrition for Mr Myles’ actions,” Judge Jarrett said.

“For example, there is no evidence that Mr Myles has been reprimanded by the CFMEU, nor that the CFMEU has taken steps to insure that its officials and Mr Myles in particular will comply with their legal obligations in the future.

“…it is difficult to resist the conclusion that the CFMEU views the penalties imposed upon it for breaches of industrial legislation as just that – the cost of doing business,” Judge Jarrett said.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the matter was another example of the contempt for the rule of law in the building and construction industry.

“Our agency is consistently dealing with cases where workplace laws are purposely ignored or deliberately breached. No-one should have to work in environment where the laws that have been put in place to protect them are so willingly contravened by the same parties time and time again.”

Mr Myles was penalised $7,000 for his conduct while the CFMEU was penalised $45,000.

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