06 August 2015 Industry Update

CFMEU official allegedly threatens ‘war’ and another ‘Kane’ situation

The CFMEU and two of its officials are facing court action after they refused to obey right of entry laws at the $45 million Taxi Lane Replacement Project at Melbourne Airport.

FWBC alleges that while on site, CFMEU official Mark Travers threatened an operations manager that he would be “starting a war and it will be no different to what we have done with Kane,” if the police were called.

Officials must give 24 hours’ notice, in accordance with right of entry laws if they wish to hold discussions with workers. When the officials were advised of this, Mr Travers allegedly responded “No, we don’t have to give 24 hours’ notice. I’m just catching up with my mate Rod [a site labourer and health and safety representative]”.

Mr Travers alleged that the pair were there to discuss “a safety issue” with the health and safety representative, however, failed to raise any safety concerns with the project manager, site supervisor or the Australian Federal Police when they arrived in response to the project manager’s call. Nor did anyone notify FWBC of any safety issues during its investigation.

After numerous requests to leave the site were ignored, the two officials were told that the police would be called. Mr Travers allegedly told the operations manager “If he [the project manager] calls the police I won’t leave…if you do that you are starting a war…”.

While Mr Travers and Mr Hall were still on site, the operations manager made a telephone call to Ralph Edwards, President of the CFMEU’s Construction and General Division Victoria/Tasmania Divisional branch, requesting that he intervene and instruct Mr Travers and Mr Hall to comply with the law. Mr Edwards allegedly refused to do so.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said all members of the building and construction industry are expected to comply with the law. “Reports of threats of retaliatory conduct are particularly concerning,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

FWBC is alleging that the CFMEU, Mr Travers and Mr Hall broke the law on a total of four occasions.

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a union per breach.

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