The ABCC has commenced Federal Court action alleging the CFMMEU and two of its Tasmanian officials breached right of entry laws during construction of serviced apartments in Hobart in 2019.
The ABCC is alleging CFMMEU official Richard Hassett unlawfully entered the project site at 80 Elizabeth Street on 23 and 28 May, 2019 because he did not have a valid federal right of entry permit.
The ABCC is further alleging that on 28 May 2019, CFMMEU official Kevin Harkins acted in an improper manner by intimidating and abusing the head contractor’s staff.
It is also alleged that Mr Harkins held discussions with workers about matters unrelated to safety without complying with the statutory requirements, and made misrepresentations to Tasmanian Police officers and the builder that Mr Hassett was authorised to exercise a State entry right.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging:
- On both 23 and 28 May 2019 Mr Hassett made misrepresentations that he was authorised to enter under State Occupational Health and Safety laws.
- At the time of the unlawful entries, Mr Hassett had returned his federal right of entry permit to the Fair Work Commission.
- On 28 May when asked to leave the site, Mr Hassett refused and said: “I can do whatever I f**king like.”
- When the site foreman asked the officials to identify the equipment they claimed was unsafe Mr Harkins responded by saying:
“Don’t get smart with me a***hole. I’m almost at the end of my career I don’t give a f**ck what happens to me, but that bloke over there will be on to you [pointing to Hassett].”
- When again asked to identify any safety breaches Mr Harkins responded: “You don’t fucking pay me, so I’m not going to tell you.”
The ABCC alleges the CFMMEU officials’ conduct contravenes the right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual. The ABCC is seeking personal payment orders against both CFMMEU officials.