Industry Update

Court summary – finalised matters

Since the last issue of Industry Update, four matters have been finalised in Court resulting in penalties totalling $470,625. Summaries of the matters are below.

Summaries of all current and past FWBC-initiated Court proceedings are available on our website.

CFMEU penalised $178,450 for Grocon picket: union’s record of non-compliance “an embarrassment”

  • On 1 July 2016 the Federal Court handed down penalties totalling $178,450 against the CFMEU and six of its officials, including Assistant Secretaries Elias Spernovasilis and Shaun Reardon, for disrupting work for three days at a Docklands construction site as part of an ongoing dispute between the union and Grocon.
  • In his judgment, Justice Jessup said the CFMEU’s record of non-compliance with workplace law has now become notorious and “ought to be an embarrassment to the trade union movement”.
  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that “This case is yet another example of the CFMEU showing a complete disregard for workplace laws and using their industrial might to enforce its own illegitimate agenda”.

$53,000 penalty for CFMEU: Judge says “country’s industrial laws little more than an annoyance” to the union

  • On 8 July 2016 the Federal Circuit Court dealt penalties totalling $53,000 against the CFMEU and three of its officials: Chad Bragdon, Jade Ingham and John “Jack” Cummins after they admitted to instigating unlawful industrial action at the Brooklyn on Brookes apartment project site in Fortitude Valley.
  • In handing down the decision, Judge Jarrett referred to the CFMEU’s “egregious record of repeated and wilful contraventions of all manner of industrial laws”.
  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed the decision but expressed disappointment at the poor state of the rule of law in the building and construction industry.

CFMEU-organised strike leads to $76,000 in penalties

  • On 8 July 2016 the Federal Court handed down penalties totalling $61,000 against the CFMEU and 29 other respondents, including $5,500 against CFMEU WA Assistant Secretary Joe McDonald. An additional 15 respondents were penalised $1,000 each on 26 July 2016.
  • The Court found that Mr McDonald organised unlawful industrial action at the $208 million Lakeside Joondalup Redevelopment in Perth on 4 June 2014. The remaining respondents were found to have engaged in unlawful industrial action.
  • In handing down the judgment, Justice Barker said the conduct of all respondents was deliberate. “The fact of the matter is that the history of contraventions attributable to Mr McDonald shows that he uses unlawful industrial action as a calculated tool…” he said.
  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said he continued to be disappointed by the frequency with which union officials act in deliberate defiance of workplace laws.

Adelaide right of entry breaches lead to a further $132,000 in penalties for CFMEU

  • On 19 July 2016 the Federal Court handed down penalties totalling $132,000 against the CFMEU and five of its officials, including CFMEU SA State Secretary Aaron Cartledge and Assistant Secretary Michael McDermott, for unlawful conduct at three construction sites across Adelaide in 2014.
  • The penalties come just three months after the South Australian Branch of the CFMEU and 15 officials were penalised $937,100 for breaching right of entry laws in seven cases relating to conduct that also took place in 2014.
  • In her decision, Justice Collier found no evidence of contrition or corrective action by the respondents, describing the CFMEU as a “‘repeat offender’ which generally appears indifferent to imposition of penalties for contraventions of the FW Act”.
  • On 12 August 2016 the CFMEU filed an application in the High Court to seek review of the Federal Court decision.

Building company fined for “blatant” discrimination against contractor

  • On 9 August 2016 the Federal Circuit Court penalised building firm Hutchinson Builders and two of its staff a total of $29,175 after they admitting to refusing to award a contract to a tiling company because the company’s enterprise agreement was not endorsed by the CFMEU.
  • Despite originally proposing to engage the tiling company on its Circa One project, Hutchinson Builders emailed the company the week before they were scheduled to start work stating that “without a union-endorsed EBA we will not be able to engage [the tiling company].”
  • In handing down the decision, Judge Vasta emphasised the seriousness of the conduct, which he said “strikes at the heart of freedom of association”.
  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss welcomed the decision, saying that “Subcontractors are small to medium enterprises and this type of unlawful behaviour threatens their livelihoods and the livelihoods of their workers. FWBC currently has a number of other employers before the courts facing similar allegations, which is of grave concern for the industry.”

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