The Federal Court has imposed more than $240,000 in penalties against the CFMEU and two of its officials for deliberately disrupting work on a critical rail infrastructure project in Melbourne.

The Court found CFMEU officials Joe Myles and Drew MacDonald abused their rights of entry when they impeded a concrete pour and were "arrogant and dismissive" of warnings by site staff that they were acting unlawfully.

Justice Tracey said that "[w]hile espousing an interest in ensuring safety on the site, [the officials] deliberately placed themselves in dangerous positions to obstruct the movement of trucks carrying concrete to the site".

The Court found the conduct resulted in economic loss at the taxpayer funded project when concrete pours were prevented resulting in at least one load being spoilt.

The Court rejected the visit by the union officials was for health and safety issues, finding the visit "was to disrupt concrete pours which [the officials] knew were being undertaken" that day.

The Court noted Mr Myles had acted in an "unsafe" manner and had a "deplorable personal history of offending" in imposing a penalty of $32,000 for his conduct.

Justice Tracey said penalties against the CFMEU had been regarded as the "cost of doing business" and ordered the union pay $200,000. Mr McDonald was ordered to pay $10,000.

The Court said the CFMEU leadership "are, or should be, aware that millions of dollars of union funds, which could otherwise be utilised for the benefit of members [had been] expended in paying penalties for these persistent contraventions".

Acting ABC Commissioner Cathy Cato said it was entirely unacceptable for permit holders to abuse right of entry laws and treat contraventions as the cost of doing business.

"A permit holder must comply with site safety requirements the same as any other visitor to a site," Ms Cato said.

"The unlawful conduct in this case not only put the officials and others on site at risk but resulted in a significant disruption to an important taxpayer funded project."

View ABCC legal case summary

Media Release
21 December 2017

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