Industry Update

Summary of recent Right of Entry Permit activity

Right of Entry permits allow union officials to enter building worksites under certain circumstances. Within the building and construction industry, holding a permit is deemed a privilege and it is important that the rules governing the use of Right of Entry permits are followed by relevant personnel.

FWBC often makes submissions to the Fair Work Commission to refuse, revoke, suspend or amend an individual’s Right of Entry permit if concerns are raised regarding whether an individual meets the ‘fit and proper person’ criteria for holding a lawful permit. A list of current union officials who do not hold a valid federal entry permit is available here.

A summary of finalised permit activity undertaken by FWBC since 1 May is below.

31 May 2016 – Drew MacDonald and Alex Tadic (CFMEU Victoria)

The FWC rejected applications by Mr MacDonald and Mr Tadic to have their Right of Entry permits renewed, accepting FWBC’s submissions that neither of them met the ‘fit and proper person’ test to be granted federal right of entry powers.

In rejecting Mr MacDonald’s application, the FWC noted that despite being a union official of several years standing Mr MacDonald failed to “demonstrate a clear knowledge of his legal obligations, a clear knowledge of where he may have transgressed in the past and a preparedness to comply with the law in the future”. Of Mr MacDonald’s previous breaches of industrial law, the FWC said “It is quite disturbing that he has had little involvement in the proceedings and appears to have little knowledge of them. He has not paid fines imposed on him and he appears to leave such matters for the union legal department to handle. More disturbing was his failure to demonstrate that he has learnt anything from these experiences.”

The FWC expressed similar concern that Mr Tadic had not demonstrated he had learnt from penalties for previous misconduct, stating “He has not demonstrated an understanding of the conduct that led to findings of unlawfulness. He has not explained how he has adjusted his conduct to ensure that he has and will comply with the law in the future”.

The CFMEU had filed an appeal against the FWC decision in relation to Mr Tadic. The matter is currently before the FWC.

31 May 2016 – Mark Travers (CFMEU Victoria)

The FWC found that, on balance, Mr Travers was a fit and proper person to hold a permit, but in line with FWBC’s submission imposed a condition on his permit the he notify the FWC if a court makes any findings or imposes penalties, or if proceedings are commenced against him.

In imposing the conditions, the FWC took into account previous breaches by Mr Travers as well as his involvement in legal proceedings currently before the Federal Court in relation to alleged right of entry breaches at a Melbourne Airport construction site. The FWC stated that “the seriousness of the allegations, against a background of unlawful conduct, warrant conditions being placed on Mr Travers’ permit”.

A list of current union officials who have had conditions imposed on their federal entry permit is available here.

29 June 2016 – Darren Roberts (CFMEU WA)

The FWC suspended Mr Roberts’ Right of Entry permit due to breaches committed by the CFMEU official in 2013.

In April 2016 Mr Roberts was penalised $2,200 for contravening right of entry provisions at the Adelaide Oval construction site in October 2013. Mr Roberts entered the site with five other CFMEU officials with providing notice and acted in an aggressive and threatening manner towards the site operations manager, including by telling the manager “I just want to smash someone right now”.  

In ordering the suspension, the FWC noted in relation to Mr Roberts that “someone with that degree of experience” should “have been able to very clearly recognise the behaviours required of a permit holder".

The FWC suspended Mr Roberts’ Right of Entry permit for four months and banned Mr Roberts from being issued a new permit during that period.

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