Industry Update

Court summary - finalised matters

There were two more court proceedings finalised during July and August 2017, both involving Queensland matters.  Summaries of the cases are set out below:

Federal Court penalises CFMEU & CEPU $430,000 for unlawful Brisbane action

  • On 3 August, the Full Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $430,000 against the CFMEU and CEPU for unlawful industrial action at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and two other Brisbane construction sites in May 2011.

  • The Court found the CFMEU’s actions were part of a “highly coordinated and deliberately orchestrated campaign” at the Children’s Hospital as well as the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

  • In their judgment, the Full Court stated that the CFMEU’s prior history “reveal[ed] a lamentable, if not disgraceful, record of deliberately flouting industrial laws” (and was) “a recidivist when it comes to contravening industrial laws.”

  • The CFMEU was penalised $300,000 for its actions at the three construction sites.  The CEPU received a penalty of $130,000 for the unlawful industrial action at the Children’s Hospital and the QIMR.

  • ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said the decision reflected a pattern of unlawful behaviour and that the agency was “committed to bringing to an end the flagrant disregard for the law shown by certain elements of the building industry, whether employers, employees or unions.”

CFMEU penalised $130,000 for industrial action at six Brisbane projects

  • On 28 July, the CFMEU and three of its officials were penalised $130,000 for industrial action which shut down work at six construction projects across Brisbane, including Ronald McDonald House and the Commonwealth Games Velodrome site.

  • The Federal Court found the industrial action aimed to pressure the head contractor to only use subcontractors who had enterprise agreements with the CFMEU or into consulting the union before engaging subcontractors.

  • In his judgment, Justice Rangiah said the courts have repeatedly emphasised the need for specific deterrence of the union’s conduct, and that the conduct: “was designed to disrupt the six projects and cause [the head contractor] economic harm.”

  • The Court ordered the CFMEU to pay $100,000, while three CFMEU organisers, Kurt Pauls, Justin Steele and Eddie Bland were ordered to pay $10,000 each for coercive conduct and organising industrial action.

  • ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed the decision and said “the near-maximum penalties show that the CFMEU cannot continue to resort to unlawful conduct to force others to bend to its will.”

Details of these decisions and other news and media information are available on our website.

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