The CFMEU and one of its officials have today been penalised $86,000 after attempting to force two Brisbane construction workers to join their union or be turned away from the site.
The Federal Circuit Court found that the two workers had been told they could not work on a Kelvin Grove apartment project in January 2016 unless they paid fees to the CFMEU.
The court found that union delegate Daniel Barker had demanded each worker pay $1,290 in union fees. However both workers left after refusing to hand over the money.
When a site manager reminded Barker that workers had a right to not be in a union, the CFMEU official had replied: “everybody’s got to be in the union, this is an EBA site”.
In handing down his penalty decision today, Judge Jarrett found that Barker had breached workplace laws by attempting to force the workers to join the union.
The CFMEU was penalised $80,000 while Barker was ordered to pay a total of $6,000.
Judge Jarrett said the penalties reflected: “the CFMEU's deplorable history of compliance with industrial laws”.
"This is yet another case in the ever-growing number of cases that involve officers, delegates or agents of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union contravening the provisions of the Fair Work Act."
The judge said the contraventions were serious because they had deprived two men of the right to work. He added:
“Union officials, delegates and other agents of industrial unions must be sent a message that their first duty is to obey the industrial laws of this country rather than the instructions given to them by their superiors further up the union hierarchy.”
ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said it was against the law to try force workers join a union to enter a construction site.
“Today’s decision is an important reminder about the principle of freedom of association in the workplace,” Mr Hadgkiss said.
“Everyone has a right to join or not to join a union. Membership of a union doesn't determine a person’s ability to earn a living in this industry.”
Link to the ABCC legal case summary - here