The Federal Court has today ordered the CFMMEU and its official Joseph Myles to pay a total of $294,000 after Mr Myles threatened to blockade and organised industrial action at the Springvale Level Crossing site in Melbourne in 2013.
Mr Myles has been ordered to personally pay a penalty of $44,000 for his unlawful conduct, which included making a threat to prevent the head contractor, McConnell Dowell Constructors, from hiring a subcontractor.
He has 90 days to pay the $44,000 penalty. This is the second personal payment order made against Mr Myles and the largest personal payment order made by the Court in ABCC litigation.
In addition to organising unlawful industrial action and attempting to coerce the head contractor, Mr Myles contravened right of entry laws three times.
The Court found that in a meeting on 19 June 2013, Mr Myles threatened to take action against the head contractor if they engaged the subcontractor and said he was “on a mission to get Clifton Formwork”.
Mr Myles said there would be “trouble” if Clifton Formwork was engaged on the project. He added that “there will be pickets outside the gates if they’re on this job” and “don’t blame me that you weren’t warned”.
On 13 February 2014, Mr Myles entered the site and organised a work ban by arranging employees to abandon their shifts.
Later that day Mr Myles breached right of entry laws when he refused to show his entry permit saying: “I haven’t got any ID, I’m not leaving the site, why don’t you call the police – I’d love that”. Protective Services Officers later attended the site.
Mr Myles subsequently entered the site on two further occasions on 19 March 2014 and 1 April 2014 despite not having a valid right of entry permit.
In his judgment today Justice O’Callaghan noted the CFMMEU’s prior history and “its apparent willingness to contravene the FW Act in a serious way to impose its will.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said it was significant the Court again ordered Mr Myles personally pay the penalty for his unlawful conduct.
“The level crossing removal projects are among the most significant infrastructure projects in the State of Victoria. That Mr Myles could undertake this unlawful conduct and threaten the livelihood of a subcontractor and its workers is unacceptable,” Mr McBurney said.
“The penalties imposed by the Federal Court on both Mr Myles and the CFMMEU send a strong message that unlawful behavior will attract a penalty with a sting for both the union and the individual.
“This is the second personal payment order awarded since the landmark High Court ruling in February this year. The level of the fine is the highest awarded to date and reflects the gravity of the offending.
“All building industry participants should now be on notice that personal payment orders will provide the requisite measure of specific deterrence. This was not previously available when the tab was being picked up by the CFMMEU and there was no personal consequence for individual contraveners.
“Most importantly, the Court’s decision today demonstrates that threats and coercion will not be tolerated on Australian building sites.”