The ABCC is taking court action against the CFMMEU and three officials after they allegedly directed workers to stop work, prevented concrete pours, abused health and safety officers and struck a health and safety manager at the Mordialloc Freeway project site in 2020.

The $523 million project involved construction of a nine-kilometre section of the freeway between the Dingley Bypass and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway in Melbourne’s south east.

In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging the officials, Paul Tzimas, Gerald McCrudden and James Harris misused their entry rights between November and December of 2020.

The ABCC alleges the unlawful conduct included:

  • On 18 November, Mr Tzimas and McCrudden directed 15 workers to not return to work
  • Behaving in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards health and safety officers by standing close to the officers and yelling words to the effect of:

you’re pathetic”;

you’re a disgrace”;

you’re f***ed this time”;

you guys are f***ing useless”;

you’re the worst f***ing safety person I’ve met in my life.

  • On 19 November Mr McCrudden entered an exclusion zone without authorisation. Despite requests to leave the area he remained there for around 2 ½ hours preventing a concrete pour. His presence resulted in the concrete pour being cancelled and the concrete being wasted.
  • On 2 December Mr Tzimas and Mr Harris attended the site. Mr Harris stood near the edge of an excavation site. Despite repeated requests to move away from the edge he responded by saying:

“Nah, piss off I will do what I want.”

  • On the same morning Mr Tzimas is alleged to have struck a health and safety manager in the chest with his fist causing the manager to lose balance. Victoria Police were called to attend the site.
  • Mr McCrudden and Mr Harris returned on the same day ahead of a further scheduled concrete pour and stood in an exclusion zone, preventing two concrete trucks from entering the site. The pair stood in front of the third concrete truck as it was entering the exclusion zone and prevented the truckload of concrete from being poured. The concrete in each of the three trucks had to be disposed of.

The ABCC further alleges the CFMMEU is liable for the conduct of its officials.

The ABCC is seeking personal payment orders against both union officials. Such an order would require Court imposed penalties to be paid personally by the officers and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU or through crowd funding.

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.

Media Release
17 November 2021