Industry Update

Court Summary - New Cases

Fair Work Building & Construction has filed six new court actions since August 6 2015. A summary of each case is below: 

CFMEU’s Joe McDonald allegedly leads strike action after head contractor obeys the law 

6 August

CFMEU Assistant State Secretary Joe McDonald is facing Federal Court proceedings after the union official allegedly organised industrial action as a result of a head-contractor on the Lakeside Joondalup Redevelopment complying with Fair Work laws by not paying strike pay. FWBC has also launched proceedings with 49 employees who were involved in the strike action.

It is alleged that Mr McDonald and two other CFMEU officials held a pre-work meeting that ran into work time.  Mr McDonald was informed that as per the Fair Work Act the workers’ pay would be docked as it was illegal to pay strike pay. The following day another meeting ran into work time and Mr McDonald was informed by the construction manager that the workers’ pay would be docked.

It is alleged that Mr McDonald then returned to the group of workers and encouraged a vote on whether the workers would return to work or go home. Workers subsequently left the site and did not return to work that day.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “My agency takes reports of unlawful industrial action very seriously. Reports of strike action because the head-contractor is following the law are particularly shocking”.

3 day strike follows CFMEU organiser allegedly inciting workers to flout safety policy

11 August 2015

FWBC has launched Federal Court proceedings against the CFMEU and one of its organisers, Pomare Auimatagi, after he allegedly encouraged workers at a site at the University of Newcastle to defy a safety policy requiring long trousers and long-sleeved shirts. 

Mr Auimatagi allegedly told the workers that they should have a choice and warned the project manager “If any worker is removed from the site then the whole site will stop work and return to the crib rooms”. 

The following morning, the project manager ordered one worker not to return to the site until he was wearing appropriate safety clothing which allegedly resulted in 50 workers refusing to do any work on the project for the rest of the day.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “safety policies are put in place for a reason, to keep the workers safe".

CFMEU & CEPU allegedly organise strikes to “send a message” to head contractor 

11 August 2015

FWBC is alleging in the Federal Court that in June 2014, Michael Haire (CEPU organiser) and Michael Robinson and Shaun Taylor (CFMEU organisers) incited workers to strike at the Ichthys Liquified National Gas project, with Mr Haire telling the workers that it would “send a message” to the head-contractor.

A flyer was circulated to workers inviting them to a meeting to discuss purported parking problems.  FWBC alleges that at the meetings held at the two Park and Ride locations, workers were encouraged to go home rather than board the buses waiting to take them to work. As a result, project workers failed to board the transport and arrive at work.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said industrial action had significant flow on effects in the building and construction industry. “We take reports of people organising industrial action very seriously, and in this case consider it in the public interest to put the matter before the court."

CFMEU’s Parker & Hanlon allegedly unlawfully enter Specialist School site & try to recruit members

17 August 2015

CFMEU NSW State Secretary Brian Parker and Assistant State Secretary Rebel Hanlon are facing Federal Circuit Court action after they allegedly used unfounded immigration and superannuation concerns to get on the NSW Ponds School project and sign up workers to the CFMEU. 

FWBC is alleging that in August of last year, Mr Hanlon told workers to stop work and go to the sheds, told the newly inducted workers that they must join the union and handed them CFMEU membership forms.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said allegations of union officials unlawfully entering a site and then trying to sign up members were very serious. “Under law all building industry participants have a right to be or not be a member of a union or employer association.”

FWBC takes construction company to Court for alleged discrimination, adverse action and coercion

2 September 2015

Brisbane-based Devine Constructions, its General Manager and two of its employees are facing the Federal Circuit Court for allegedly discriminating against a steel fabrication company.

FWBC alleged that Devine Constructions stopping the company from performing work it was contracted to do, refused to engage the company for other work because it did not have a CFMEU-friendly enterprise agreement and a CFMEU official told Devine Construction not to allow the company to perform any work at the site.

FWBC is alleging Brisbane-based Devine Constructions stopped the steel fabrication company from performing work despite the company having a contract to conduct work on the site, and refused to engage the same steel fabrication company for other work. 

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said: “Just as workers should not be discriminated against for being a member, or not being a member, of a union, contractors should not be disadvantaged if they do not have a specific kind of enterprise agreement”

CFMEU safety rep refuses site access to company without the ‘right’ union agreement

20 October 2015

FWBC alleges two workers who had not paid their CFMEU membership fees and worked for a company that didn’t have a particular agreement with the CFMEU were refused access to a Melbourne CBD site and the company was unable to perform the work. 

The workers had stopped paying their union membership fees due to the CFMEU’s refusal to negotiate an enterprise agreement with their employer.

FWBC alleges that after arriving on the site, the workers were told by CFMEU officer and acting OHS representation Mr Karamitos: “your CFMEU dues are out of date by one month and you won’t be starting on site until you pay up”.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “It is disheartening to hear reports of yet another instance where a CFMEU safety representative appears to be primarily focused on union membership dues. This case also highlights workers losing their ability to do their job because of discrimination”.


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