The Fair Work Commission has suspended CFMMEU official Arturo Menon’s federal entry permit for six months and revoked fellow official Paul Taylor’s permit and banned him from applying for a permit for four months following the pair’s contraventions of the Fair Work Act at the Palmerston Police Station project in the Northern Territory in 2018.
The suspensions, revocations and bans follow the ABC Commissioner’s intervention in the Fair Work Commission’s proceedings due to the serious nature of the officials’ conduct.
At the time of the contraventions Mr Menon, Mr Taylor and a third CFMMEU official, Roland Cummins, demanded work stop on the $30 million law and order and community safety facility.
The Federal Court found when NT Worksafe officers arrived at the site Mr Menon and Mr Cummins behaved in an improper manner towards the officers. In attempting to shut the site down Mr Menon also falsely told workers they were entitled to go home on full pay.
On 2 October 2020 the Federal Court penalised the CFMMEU and the three officials $292,200 for their contraventions.
Commenting on Mr Menon’s improper conduct towards the WorkSafe inspectors, Justice White in his judgment said:
“Such officers should be able to discharge their duties without being subject to aggression or any form of intimidation.”
Justice White went on to say of the three CFMMEU officials:
"They could have addressed those safety concerns with civility, without engaging in foul-mouthed language, without making threats, and without making statements which were false or misleading. Their improper conduct arises from the way in which they chose to deal with the matters of concern.
“There is no evidence of any contrition or regret by any of the respondents for their conduct. Apart from the formal admissions in the pleadings, there has been no acknowledgement by any of the respondents of the wrongfulness of their conduct.”
ABCC Commissioner Steve McBurney described the nature of Mr Menon and Mr Taylor’s conduct as defiant, deliberate and lacking any contrition.
“This type of unlawful conduct is, regrettably, all too common on building and construction sites,” Mr McBurney said.
“The ABCC sought suspension and ban periods higher than the minimum due to the nature and gravity of the offending conduct. The decision of the Fair Work Commission sends a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Mr Cummins abandoned his application for a new right of entry permit on 8 October 2020, after the ABCC Commissioner intervened in the application to oppose reissuing him a permit. The ABCC Commissioner intended to oppose the application based on Mr Cummins history of offending. As a result, Mr Cummins no longer holds a federal right of entry permit.
Arising from an earlier ABCC investigation into an incident at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre project, the Magistrates Court, on 17 March 2020, found Mr Cummins guilty of intimidating a WHS official. The Court imposed a $5000 fine on 3 September 2020. The conviction is currently subject to appeal in the Cairns District Court.
Since December 2016 six CFMMEU officials have had their federal entry permits either revoked or suspended as a result of ABCC intervention in the Fair Work Commission.
A list of union officials who do not hold a valid federal entry permit, or have conditions imposed on their federal entry permit, can be found on the ABCC’s website.