The Federal Court has today penalised the CFMMEU and its former official Michael Jackson $30,000 after Mr Jackson acted in an improper manner while exercising his rights of entry at Marion City council’s redevelopment of the Morphettville Park Sports Club in Adelaide in February 2020.
Mr Jackson admitted to behaving in an aggressive manner towards an employee of a subcontractor engaged to perform work on the site, including threatening him that he wouldn’t work in South Australia again.
The interactions with the worker occurred on 14 February 2020 when Mr Jackson was inspecting scaffolding erected on the site.
When Mr Jackson complained about the quality of the scaffolding, the worker asked what the issue was, to which Mr Jackson said “You should know that. It’s your job. If you don’t, you’re an idiot.”
When the worker replied “That’s not how you should speak to people”, Mr Jackson said in an aggressive manner: “I'll speak to you however the f..k I want…”
Mr Jackson then moved towards the worker and said: “You keep going, you'll never work in South Australia again”.
During a subsequent discussion with the site’s project manager, Mr Jackson said “What’s your f*cking role here? Who runs the show on this Site?”
Mr Jackson and the CFMMEU admitted to contravening section 500 of the Fair Work Act by acting in an improper manner.
In commenting on Mr Jackson’s actions, which were found to be intentional, the Court said:
“It is difficult therefore to identify any matter mitigating the seriousness of Mr Jackson’s conduct. His conduct was unprovoked, unnecessary and involved a form of abuse of the statutory right of entry granted to him.”
“In my view, the penalties should be imposed on the basis that Mr Jackson chose, in the absence of any provocation, to act aggressively, to use abusive language and to make a threat.”
“Neither Mr Jackson nor the CFMMEU have made any expression of contrition or regret. The CFMMEU has not provided any evidence of action taken by it with a view to ensuring that there will not be a repetition of conduct of this kind again.”
ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said:
“The victim in this case was singled out for abuse and a serious and intentional threat to his livelihood. This conduct has been found by the court to be unacceptable and unlawful.
I note Mr Jackson has surrendered his permit and has no intention of seeking a permit or working for the union again. In the normal course, I would have sought the suspension or revocation of his permit by the Fair Work Commission for his conduct in this case.
“In the absence of any expression of contrition or regret from the CFMMEU, this type of conduct is likely to give rise to further investigations by my Agency. We stand ready to assist any victim of abuse, threats or intimidation on site.”
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.