May - June 2016 Industry Update

Court summary - New cases

Since the last issue of Industry Update, the following six court matters have been initiated by FWBC.

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

Melbourne company and CFMEU to face court for demanding worker pay union dues (6 May 2016)

  • Melbourne painting and decorating company, Arteam, and the CFMEU are facing court over allegations they attempted to force a worker to join the CFMEU and pay union dues.

  • FWBC alleges that Arteam director Michael Hanna and CFMEU officer Godwin Farrugia falsely told the worker he would not be allowed to work on the Tullamarine Quest Apartments site unless he was a member of the CFMEU.

  • It is further alleged that after the worker presented the respondents with information regarding freedom of association obtained from the Fair Work Ombudsman website, he was told that the CFMEU could close the site and prevent others from working if he remained on the project without paying union fees.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “It is unlawful for anyone, including employers, to pressure a worker to join or not join a union. Under the Fair Work Act 2009, Employers can be penalised if they infringe the workplace rights of workers who are simply trying to exercise their own freedom of association.”

CFMEU in court for allegedly closing down Geelong Grammar construction site (24 May 2016)

  • The CFMEU and one of its officials, Brendan Murphy, are facing Federal Court action following claims Mr Murphy breached right of entry provisions and delayed construction work being undertaken at the Geelong Grammar School on 3 December 2014.

  • FWBC claims Mr Murphy entered the site and refused to show his permit to the site manager. After attempting to ascertain if workers were covered by an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU and Incolink, Mr Murphy allegedly closed the site down. As a result, works scheduled for that day were not completed.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that right-of-entry provisions in the Fair Work Act were designed to provide permit holders access to worksites to carry out genuine business in the interest of workers, he stated “Right-of-entry is not an excuse to go on to a building site and tell a head‑contractor who can and can’t perform work on the site. Behaviour such as this undermines our industrial relations system.”

CFMEU in court for coercion after allegedly blockading construction site (25 May 2016)

  • The CFMEU and two of its officials, Drew MacDonald and John Duggan, are facing civil penalties in the Federal Court after allegedly blockading the Aldi Supermarket construction site in Altona in an attempt to force a construction company to sign up to an enterprise agreement in December 2014.

  • The alleged conduct includes parking vehicles across the entrance to the site preventing access by trucks carrying construction equipment and materials to the site and making representations concerning enterprise agreements with the CFMEU.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “Blockading a site for the purposes of coercion is not only unlawful, but hugely costly to the companies involved and to the productivity of the industry as a whole.”

FWBC seeks Federal Court injunctions to end stoppages at Commonwealth Games site (2 June 2016)

  • On 3 June 2016 the Federal Court granted urgent injunctions sought by FWBC against the CFMEU and two officials in order to put an end to over three weeks of rolling work stoppages at the Carrara sports and Recreation Project on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

  • FWBC claims the CFMEU was misusing the twice daily two-hour meetings in order to coerce the head contractor into signing an enterprise agreement on the union’s terms.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that the Court’s intervention was necessary to bring an end to this ongoing and costly dispute.

  • The court issued an injunction limiting the number of meetings the union can hold. +-The matter is listed for a five day hearing commencing on 25 July 2016.

CFMEU officials allegedly threaten non-unionised workers (9 June 2016)

  • FWBC has filed a case in the Federal Circuit Court against the CFMEU and two of its officers, Jody Moses and Gregg Churchman who are alleged to have threatened workers on Queensland’s Gladstone Boardwalk project with removal and a ban from other construction sites unless they joined the CFMEU.

  • It is further alleged that workers were told the project was a union site, CFMEU membership was compulsory and they had 5 minutes to think about joining the union.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the alleged actions by CFMEU officials revealed their patent disregard for the workplace right of freedom of association stating that “FWBC will continue to investigate and prosecute cases where workers’ freedom of association is being hindered”.

CFMEU allegedly disrupt $200 million project with repeated work stoppages (10 June 2016)

  • The CFMEU and five of its officials are facing penalties in the Federal Court for allegedly organising unlawful work stoppages and breaching right of entry provisions on six separate occasions at the ‘180 Brisbane’ office toward construction site.

  • It is alleged that CFMEU officials refused to produce entry notices and directed workers to stop work on multiple occasions.

  • FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said “The right of entry provisions in the Fair Work Act are designed to provide permit holders access to worksites to carry out genuine business in the interest of workers. They are not a licence to enter worksites to impede or disrupt work.”

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