The Federal Circuit Court in Sydney has today imposed penalties totaling $156,900 against the CFMMEU and two of its officials after they contrived safety concerns against a crane company and organised work stoppages at three sites.

CFMMEU organiser Anthony Sloane and former organiser Luke Collier organised a crane company’s employees to stop work at:

  • the Ku-ring-gai Hospital Redevelopment in Hornsby
  • the Icon Urbanest student accommodation site in Ultimo
  • residential apartments in Erskineville.

The Court found the union officials’ conduct was not motivated by a genuine concern for the health and safety of the crane company’s employees, but as a means to inconvenience the company.

The two union officials’ conduct was aimed at pressuring the crane company to retain a CFMMEU site delegate.

The CFMMEU was penalised $135,000, Mr Sloane $15,200 and Mr Collier $6,700.

In his judgment, Judge Cameron said:

These were serious contraventions.

The absence of any form of contrition, and the maintenance of a defence which was signally lacking in merit, suggest that the respondents, particularly the CFMMEU and Mr Sloane, did not really take this proceeding or the contraventions which underlie it seriously.

..the contraventions were a form of extortion and it cannot be doubted that they were a discrete campaign. … the inconvenience Mr Sloane caused to Reds Global on 24 March 2014 was based on a contrivance. Those are serious matters.

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said this decision sends a clear message to industry.

“The bogus safety complaints were deployed in a targeted campaign against the crane company in order to achieve the CFMMEU’s industrial objectives,” Mr McBurney said.

“I note the findings of the Court that the conduct was not motivated by a genuine concern for the health and safety of the crane company’s employees.

“This is not an isolated case. It is demonstrative of a pattern of behaviour where CFMMEU officials have exercised right of entry claiming safety concerns only for the Courts to conclude, on an assessment of the evidence, that there is an ulterior motive.”

Following this judgment the Courts have now imposed more than $9 million in penalties against the CFMMEU nationally and more than $2.2 million against its NSW branch since the re-establishment of the agency on 2 December 2016.