May - June 2016 Industry Update

Court summary - Finalised matters

Since the last issue of Industry Update, three matters have been finalised in Court. Summaries of the matters are below.

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

CFMEU and official fined $78,000: Judge says official “not the least bit troubled about breaking the law”

  • On 13 May 2016 the Federal Court dealt penalties of $78,000 on the CFMEU and official Joe Myles for blockading the taxpayer-funded $4.3 billion Regional Rail Link project site in May 2013.

  • Notably, Mr Myles was penalised $18,000 with Judge Mortimer ordering that the CFMEU must not reimburse Mr Myles, or pay the penalty on his behalf. 

  • Mr Myles and approximately twenty others blocked access to the site with vehicles, preventing the delivery of concrete and causing tonnes of wastage, after site management refused Mr Myles’ repeated requests to put a CFMEU delegate on the site. Following the blockade, Mr Myles threatened the site superintendent with “war” if his demands were not met.

  • In handing down the penalty, Judge Mortimer criticised the past behaviour of Mr Myles and the CFMEU, saying it indicated “a conscious and deliberate strategy employed by the CFMEU and its officers to engage in disruptive threatening and abusive behaviour towards employers without regard to the lawfulness of that action”.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the matter was yet another demonstration of the contempt for rule of law that plagues the building and construction industry.

Darwin industrial action leads to $94,600 penalty

  • Penalties totalling $94,600 were ordered against the CFMEU, the CEPU and three union officials on 16 May 2016 for organising unlawful industrial action targeting the $45 billion Ichthys LNG development, one of the world’s most significant oil and gas projects.

  • On 19 June 2014 CFMEU organiser Michael Robinson attended the Yarrawonga park and ride facility and organised unlawful industrial action that resulted in workers failing to board the bus and attend work for the day. That same day, CFMEU organiser Shaun Taylor and CEPU organiser Michael Haire attended the Darwin Airport park and ride facility and organised unlawful industrial action resulting in workers failing to board buses and attend work.

  • In handing down the penalty, Judge Charlesworth said “In all of the circumstances, I regard the mental attitudes accompanying the contraventions of Mr Robinson, Mr Taylor and Mr Haire as defiant and serious.”

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said this case was another example where union officials chose to ignore the Fair Work Act 2009 in order to pursue industrial agendas.

Blockades at Perth Airport construction site lead to $21,225 in penalties

  • The Federal Court on 30 May 2016 ordered penalties totalling $21,225 against the CFMEU and six of its officials including State Secretary Mick Buchan and Assistant State Secretary Joe McDonald following the blockade of the $80 million Perth International Airport Arrivals Expansion project.

  • The Federal Court found that on 22 October 2013, the officials organised a blockade of the project involving approximately 100 protestors who prevented 160 workers from accessing the site following a dispute with one of the subcontractors engaged on the project.

  • In handing down the penalties, Justice Siopsis found that the conduct of all six CFMEU officials was deliberate, saying “There is no evidence that the respondents have demonstrated any contrition or made any attempt at corrective conduct”. 

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “It is disappointing that the CFMEU continues to pick and choose when it believes the law should and should not apply on construction sites”.

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