The ABCC is taking Court action against the CFMMEU and its official Gerald McCrudden for allegedly disrupting a concrete pour, repeated verbal abuse and for twice making physical contact with a female health and safety manager at the Mordialloc Freeway project in Victoria in 2021.
The alleged contraventions occurred during the construction of the $523 million nine-kilometre extension of the Mordialloc Freeway, between the Dingley Bypass and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway in Melbourne’s south east.
In its statement of claim the ABCC alleges Mr McCrudden acted in an improper manner on multiple occasions when entering the project on 24 and 25 June and 14 July 2021. The ABCC further alleges that Mr McCrudden engaged in adverse action by threatening a representative of the contractor on 25 June.
The ABCC’s Statement of Claim filed with the Court alleges:
On 14 July
- While exercising right of entry, Mr McCrudden walked directly into and pushed past a female health and safety manager which caused him to make physical contact with her.
- That after the female manager followed Mr McCrudden onto the site, he cocked his elbow and hit her in her side with his elbow and shoulder.
- The manager said, “don’t touch me!”
- A short time later Mr McCrudden said to the manager, “everyone hates you, you’re pathetic.”
- When the manager accused Mr McCrudden of putting words in her mouth, Mr McCrudden responded by saying, “I would never put anything in your mouth, you’re disgusting.”
- Mr McCrudden’s physical contact and abuse caused the health and safety manager to feel shocked, extremely annoyed, frustrated and disrespected at work.
On 24 June
- Mr McCrudden entered the Bowen Parkway site of the project, having issued a notice relating to suspected safety contraventions.
- At about 10.30am a concrete truck arrived at the site. The health and safety manager told Mr McCrudden the concrete needed to be poured immediately to ensure the integrity of the bridge deck was not compromised. Mr McCrudden responded to the effect of:
“It’s not going to happen. You won’t be receiving the concrete if their paperwork isn’t compliant.”
- The health and safety manager attempted to show Mr McCrudden the relevant paperwork. Mr McCrudden did not look at the paperwork and responded:
“That’s not it, you don’t give a f*ck.”
- Mr McCrudden then walked up to the truck driver. Despite having received the appropriate paperwork and being told the concrete pour was time sensitive, McCrudden refused to move out of the way of the concrete truck and delayed the concrete pour.
- Mr McCrudden then held his mobile phone close to the faces of a health and safety manager, project superintendent and an engineer, and appeared to film them while saying:
“F*ck this, [name of head contractor] are dogs, you’re all f**king useless.”
- When told his access had been revoked Mr McCrudden told the superintendent to “F*ck off”.
- At about 2.20pm that day Mr McCrudden returned to the project and said to the health and safety manager:
“Does [health and safety manager] know what he is doing talking to the ABCC? Whether it’s me or the next guy, we won’t forget, and he won’t have a career in this industry.”
On 25 June
- Mr McCrudden attended the Dingley Bypass site of the project. While there he said to the health and safety manager:
“You’re not going to have much of a future if you continue to speak to the ABCC. You’ll see mate, you’ll see.”
The ABCC alleges Mr McCrudden’s behaviour amounted to improper conduct and adverse action in contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009. The ABCC further alleges the CFMMEU is liable for Mr McCrudden’s conduct.
The unlawful conduct comprised of a threat to take adverse action and eight instances of improper conduct comprising:
- three instances of abusive language,
- obstructing a concrete truck,
- filming with offensive language,
- making a threat,
- two instances of physical contact to a manager.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.
The ABCC is seeking a personal payment order against Mr McCrudden, which would require Court imposed penalties to be paid personally by him and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU or through crowd funding.
Mr McCrudden is also a respondent in an earlier matter concerning the Mordialloc Freeway project and involving alleged contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009. Details outlining the ABCC’s allegations can be found on our website.