The Federal Court has penalised the CFMMEU $23,000 following the union admitting to a breach of the Fair Work Act through the actions of two of its officials during construction of Perth’s Doubletree Hilton Hotel.

The contravention occurred in February 2019 when the officials, John Windus and Stephen Parker, attended the site over safety issues related to scaffolding.

When asked by the site safety supervisor to accompany him to inspect the scaffolding, both officials ignored his request and headed in the opposite direction. 

The CFMMEU admitted that, in ignoring the safety supervisor’s direction, the conduct of Mr Windus and Mr Parker was improper and contravened section 500 of the Fair Work Act.

In addition, during an exchange with the safety supervisor over a contractor’s materials left on the floor, Mr Windus said:

How do you expect workers to access this area with all these trip hazards?

This is on the walk way, do some housekeeping.

When told by the safety supervisor the materials were not on a walk way and that he would get his workers to clean up the materials, Mr Windus replied in a raised voice:

You pick this up or I’ll stand here all day.

When complaining about materials on the floor, Mr Windus used the term “third world” a reference the supervisor interpreted was related to his ethnic background.

The CFMMEU admitted that Mr Windus acted improperly by being unreasonable and disrespectful in raising his voice at the supervisor, by being insensitive and inconsiderate to the supervisor in making a reference to “third world”, and by using foul language in the supervisor’s presence during the site visit.

This is the 28th right of entry case involving court findings of contraventions against the CFMMEU and/or its officials since the ABCC commenced operation in December 2016.

In that time the CFMMEU or its representatives have been penalised more than $750,000 in Western Australia for contraventions of industrial laws.

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said:

The CFMMEU agreed Mr Windus acted unreasonably and disrespectfully in raising his voice in the exchange with the site safety supervisor, by being insensitive and inconsiderate in making a reference to “third world”, which was interpreted by the supervisor as a racist slur, and by using foul language in the supervisor’s presence.

The use of bullying or intimidatory behaviour is all too frequently condoned, if not encouraged, by the CFMMEU. It is only appropriate that the CFMMEU should be held to account for the actions of its officials.

If you have been the subject of intimidation, bullying or unlawful conduct on site you can call the ABCC on 1800 003 338 for free advice and assistance.