The Federal Court has today imposed total penalties of $78,000 against the CFMMEU and two of its shop stewards for coercing a worker to pay union fees on two separate construction sites in the Melbourne CBD.
CFMMEU shop stewards Maurice Campanaro and Joe Caratozzolo both admitted to coercing a worker to pay union membership fees before he was allowed to commence work at the Trillium Project and EQ Tower construction sites.
On 25 November 2016, union shop steward Mr Campanaro met with the painting contractor at the Trillium Project. During that meeting Mr Campanaro told the worker he had to pay fees to the CFMMEU in order to commence working at the site.
After paying the fees to the CFMMEU, the worker was then allowed to commence work.
On 15 February 2017, another CFMMEU shop steward Mr Caratozzolo met the worker shortly after he had been inducted on the EQ Project site. During that meeting, Mr Caratozzolo told the worker he needed to pay outstanding fees to the CFMMEU and would not be permitted to work at the site until he did so.
The worker was only allowed to commence work after he paid the CFMMEU membership fees.
In his judgment today, Justice O’Callaghan said:
“Mr Campanaro coerced [the worker] into paying fees to the CFMMEU in order to commence working. Contraventions of the FW Act involving coercive conduct are particularly serious…”
“In arriving at an appropriate penalty for the CFMMEU, I take into account its prior history, its apparent willingness to contravene the FW Act in a serious way to impose its will, and the need for deterrence of an organisation of its size and financial resources.”
ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the disregard for the worker’s rights to freedom of association in the case was concerning.
“The union officials in this case threatened the worker’s livelihood and coerced him into paying union membership fees on two separate occasions,” Mr McBurney said.
“Every worker has the right to choose to join or not join a union. The law is very clear on that point.
“We stand ready to assist any worker who has been victimised by unlawful conduct of this nature or had their livelihood threatened for exercising this right.”