Industry Update

Targeted industrial campaigns cost CFMEU and McDonald $250,000

The Federal Magistrates Court has handed down penalties against CFMEU WA Assistant Secretary Joe McDonald and the CFMEU in the latest of a series of costly losses for the union in the West.

On 5 October 2012, Federal Magistrate Lucev imposed penalties totalling $6,380 against Mr McDonald and $28,600 against the union for unlawful industrial action and making false and misleading statements about workers’ requirements to join the union at the Diploma Herdsman Business Park project on 25 February 2008. Federal Magistrate Lucev also awarded $15,000 in costs in favour of FWBC.

In an agreed statement of facts, Mr McDonald and the union admitted that he told workers that they had to be members of the union and that there was an agreement between the union and Diploma to that effect.

This latest decision comes just weeks after a court ordered the CFMEU and Mr McDonald to pay a $200,000 penalty for engaging in a targeted industrial campaign against the same company on another site.

In that case, Federal Justice Buchanan endorsed a statement of facts and penalties agreed to between the parties on 4 September 2012.

The CFMEU and Mr McDonald admitted to organising two strikes at the Queens Riverside Apartments project in Perth in February and June 2011.

The strikes resulted in the CFMEU and Mr McDonald being in contempt of court because an earlier Court Order had prohibited them from engaging or being involved in any industrial action involving the head contractor, Diploma Construction (WA) Pty Ltd (Diploma).

In his judgment, Justice Buchanan highlighted the seriousness of breaching court orders:

“...breach of an order of the Court is a serious matter. In my view the penalties proposed by the parties as punishment for the admitted contempts sufficiently recognise the seriousness of Mr McDonald's conduct and the need to register the Court's concern about even an unintended breach of its orders.”

The February strike was taken in protest over alleged sham contracting by a company that Diploma had engaged. FWBC investigated the sham contracting claims, prosecuted the company and secured a penalty of $48,000.

The CFMEU and Mr McDonald also admitted to attempting to coerce Diploma to enter into a building agreement through the use of threats, a picket and a blockade in June and July 2011.

FWBC Media Statement: More FWBC penalties against McDonald
FWBC Media Statement: FWBC secures $200,000 finding against CFMEU & McDonald
FWBC Fact Sheet: Industrial Action
FWBC Fact Sheet: Unlawful Coercion
FWBC Fact Sheet: Sham Contract Arrangements

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