The ABCC has commenced proceedings against the CFMMEU and three of its officials alleging they organised unlawful industrial action, contravened right of entry laws and threatened to shut down the Melbourne University Veterinary School project site in Werribee.
The ABCC alleges CFMMEU officials Kane Pearson, Dario Maloni and Paul Tzimas engaged in the conduct on 13 July 2018 and 26 July 2018.
In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Melbourne, the ABCC is alleging:
- On 13 July 2018 at about 7.30am, Mr Maloni organised a work stoppage by the employees of one of the subcontractors on the site and said it was due to CBUS and Incolink outstanding payments.
- When the site’s Project Manager said the workers should get back to work, Mr Maloni threatened: "If they go back to work there will be trouble. The whole site will be shut down."
- Shortly after the subcontractor’s workers returned to work, Mr Pearson and Mr Maloni organised a further work stoppage at about 9.50am and held a meeting that was attended by all workers at the site.
- After the majority of the workers returned to work at about 11.50am, Mr Maloni physically prevented the remaining workers from leaving the sheds by blocking the doorway.
- On 26 July 2018, Mr Pearson and Mr Tzimas entered the site and when Mr Tzimas was asked to produce his entry permit on three separate occasions, he refused to do so.
- At one stage while walking around the site, Mr Pearson ran away from the site’s WHS Coordinator while Mr Maloni blocked the coordinator’s path by standing in the middle of a stairwell.
- When the coordinator finally caught up to him, Mr Pearson made inappropriate sexual remarks and comments about his physical appearance.
- When the WHS Coordinator attempted to follow Mr Pearson, Mr Tzimas, and Mr Maloni into the site’s first aid room, Mr Pearson physically hip and shouldered the coordinator out of the doorway and slammed the door in his face.
- Two State Government Worksafe officers were also called to the site after the CFMMEU officials said the work stoppage was due to safety concerns. The two Worksafe Officers concluded there was no reasonable cause for workers to be concerned about their health and safety.
The ABCC is alleging the conduct contravenes the unlawful industrial action provisions in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act) and the right of entry and coercion provisions in the Fair Work Act.
The maximum penalty per contravention under the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty per contravention under the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.