CFMEU and official fined $78,000: Judge says official “not the least bit troubled about breaking the law”

The CFMEU and official Joe Myles have been dealt penalties of $78,000 for blockading the taxpayer-funded $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link project site, preventing the delivery of concrete to the site and causing tonnes of wastage.

Notably, Mr Myles was penalised $18,000 with Judge Mortimer ordering that the CFMEU must not reimburse Mr Myles, or pay the penalty on his behalf. The CFMEU was also penalised $60,000.

In May 2013, Mr Myles and approximately twenty other people parked nine separate vehicles across the main entrance to the site, preventing access by Boral trucks that had been engaged to deliver concrete. The 24.4 cubic metres of concrete awaiting delivery in the trucks, as well as an additional 24.4 cubic metres that had already been poured, had to be disposed of. 

The action followed repeated requests by Mr Myles for the site manager to put a CFMEU delegate on the site, despite Mr Myles being informed that the AWU was a party to the Enterprise Agreement and there was already an AWU delegate on site. Following the blockade, Mr Myles threatened the site superintendent with “war” if his demands were not met.

In handing down the penalty, Judge Mortimer criticised the past behaviour of Mr Myles and the CFMEU.

“Given the history of contraventions of s 348 by both the CFMEU and Mr Myles, I am prepared to infer that both respondents (and the CFMEU’s other responsible officers) well knew the conduct was unlawful and did not care.” Judge Mortimer said.

“The conduct has in common features of abuse of industrial power and the use of whatever means the individuals involved considered likely to achieve outcomes to the interests of the CFMEU. The conduct occurs so regularly, in situations with the same kinds of features, that the only available inference is that there is a conscious and deliberate strategy employed by the CFMEU and its officers to engage in disruptive threatening and abusive behaviour towards employers without regard to the lawfulness of that action…”

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the matter was yet another demonstration of the contempt for rule of law that plagues the building and construction industry.

In this case, the CFMEU and its officials delayed and added cost to an important piece of public infrastructure in order to pursue its own industrial agenda. The contempt for the law and the contempt for taxpayers in this matter are frankly astounding,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Incidents of coercive behaviour such as this impose huge costs on the industry and the national economy. FWBC will continue to take action against those who break the law in our effort to promote a productive and harmonious building and construction industry.”


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