There have been three matters finalised in the courts since the last Industry Update. A summary is below:

CFMEU and 19 officials penalised $817,500 for systematic campaign in Queensland

  • CFMEU and 19 of its officials were penalised $817,500 after they shut down two major Brisbane sites in a bid to force the head contractor to sign a CFMEU enterprise agreement.
  • Work stoppages took place during several months in 2013 at two construction sites – the $777 million Enoggera Army Barracks and $60 million QUT Kelvin Grove Campus.
  • Industrial action continued until the head contractor signed the CFMEU enterprise agreement.
  • In his decision handed down on 9 March, Justice Rangiah said the union’s conduct was “deliberate, flagrant and systematic”, with “no evidence of any attempts by the CFMEU to take corrective steps to ensure that [CFMEU officials] and agents comply with the law”.
  • ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the sustained campaign on the head contractor impacted important major projects and risked the livelihoods of those who wanted to work.
     

CFMEU penalised for flouting safety policy at University of Newcastle site

  • CFMEU has been ordered to pay the maximum penalty of $51,000 for encouraging works to defy their employer’s safety policy.
  • It’s official Pomare Auimatagi was also penalised $7,500 in a decision handed down by the Federal Circuit Court on 8 March.
  • The Court found that in January 2014, Mr Auimatagi encouraged workers at the University of Newcastle site to attend work wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts in defiance of the employer’s Two Longs Safety Policy.
  • The policy was consistent with the CFMEU’s own published guidance on heat management and advice from Comcare, the national safety regulator.
  • In imposing the maximum penalty on the CFMEU, the Court found the union “demonstrated a complete disregard for obeying the law” and that there was no evidence of “contrition”.
  • ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the conduct in the matter had put the health and safety of workers at risk.

Court penalises CFMEU and its shop steward for ‘no-ticket, no-start’ regime on Melbourne site

  • The CFMEU and its shop steward Godwin Farrugia were penalised $105,000 for stopping two employees from working at a Melbourne site, because they were not financial members of the union.
  • On 26 February, the Federal Court found that at a site induction at the Quest Apartments on 17 March 2014, Mr Farrugia asked the workers about their union membership saying: “You haven’t paid [your membership]. You need to fix it. I can't let you work if you're not paid up”.
  • When one worker asked to be given a month to pay his fees because he had not worked in three months and accumulated household bills, Mr Farrugia replied, “I can’t give you that long. I give you two days.
  • In his judgment, Justice Tracey said the CFMEU shop steward was “enforcing a ‘no ticket no start’ regime on the site” and that “neither the CFMEU nor Mr Farrugia exhibited any contrition for their misconduct.
  • The Court imposed near-maximum penalties of $95,000 against the CFMEU. Mr Farrugia was penalised $10,000.
  • ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said there is no place for ‘no-ticket, no-start’ practices on Australian construction sites.
  • “This case is a clear example of why workers’ rights to freedom of association must be protected,” he said.