The Federal Court has today imposed penalties totaling $271,500 against the CFMMEU and two of its officials after they refused to show their right of entry permits and were abusive when asked to do so at the Bendigo Theatre site in Victoria.
Earlier this year the Court found Mr Davies acted in an improper manner when he refused to produce his entry permit when asked to do so on 22 July 2014 and 29 July 2014.
During the 22 July site entry, Mr Davies, after refusing to show his entry permit, told the project manager to “f**k off” on one occasion and “go away” on another occasion.
Mr Davies also held his mobile phone in close proximity to the project manager’s face while taking photos of him and refused multiple requests to leave the site. Victoria Police were subsequently called to the site.
Mr Tadic was found to have engaged in a “lengthy and foul-mouthed tirade” when asked to explain his presence on the site on 1 August 2014 and told the project manager words to the effect: “I’m not dealing with a f***ing pen pusher.”
The CFMMEU was penalised $245,000 while its officials Nigel Davies and Alex Tadic were penalised $19,000 and $7,500 respectively for contravening right of entry laws at the site in July and August 2014.
In his reasons for decision delivered today, Justice Tracey of the Federal Court made the following findings:
“Mr Davies had his permit with him and could … easily have produced it upon request. He was determined not to comply with those requests… He was defiant and dismissive in the face of lawful directions that he leave the site.”
“Mr Tadic contravened section 500 of the Fair Work Act by acting in a loud, rude, aggressive and abusive manner and by using profane and indecent language towards the authorised representative of the occupier of the site for between three and five minutes.”
The CFMEU has failed to acknowledge any wrongdoing or take corrective steps to ensure that such conduct ceases. These failures lead to the irresistible inference that the officials are acting in accordance with the instructions or policies adopted by those responsible for the governance of the organisation. The union has adopted the attitude that it will not comply with any legislative constraints, placed on its operations, with which it disagrees. Such an approach is an anathema in a democratic society.
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the abusive and unlawful conduct exhibited by both union officials in the case was unacceptable.
“The union officials, rather than simply producing their entry permits when asked to do so opted to engage in abusive and threatening behaviour,” Mr McBurney said.
“It is a matter of serious concern that Victoria Police resources had to be diverted to the site because of the unlawful conduct of both union officials.”
“The Court has ordered significant penalties in this case. The judgment refers to a long history of recidivism and an extensive litany of blatant contraventions by the CFMMEU. It notes that the union is prepared to pay any penalties imposed by the Court and treat such expenditure as a cost of pursuing its industrial ends.
“My Agency will remain steadfast in fulfilling its statutory mandate to investigate and address unlawful conduct in the building and construction industry.”