The Federal Court has increased a penalty awarded against building company J Hutchinson Pty Ltd from $1,200 to $20,000.

The ABCC filed an appeal from the Federal Circuit Court’s original decision on the basis the penalty was manifestly inadequate.

In its 25 February 2019 judgment the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane imposed the $1200 penalty against Hutchinson Builders for contravening strike pay provisions in the Fair Work Act after the company made payments to 10 workers who had engaged in unlawful industrial action.

The penalty stemmed from an incident on 9 December 2013 when two inspectors from the Queensland Government’s then Building Construction Compliance Branch (BCCB) attended the $53 million Arena Apartment’s site to conduct an audit.

During the inspectors’ visit, two CFMMEU officials directed a number of workers to stop work. The officials told Hutchinson’s representatives if the BCCB:

“… step foot on any of your projects, we will be there within five minutes flat and we will be stopping the job and that’s a nationwide directive from the top.”

Judge Jarrett in his 25 February judgment said the CFMMEU officials’ behaviour was:

“… plainly deliberate and was aimed at preventing or hindering the inspectors from the BCCB from conducting their work.”

At the time of the 25 February judgment the CFMMEU and its two representatives Mark O’Brien and former official Michael Myles were penalised $35,700.

The ABCC is awaiting the published reasons for the decision from the Federal Court and will provide further details at that point in time.