There have been four matters finalised in the courts since the last Industry Update. A summary is below:
On 27 July 2018, the Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $137,590 against the CFMMEU and three of its officials for unlawfully entering an Adelaide worksite on four occasions between April and July 2014.
The Court penalised the CFMMEU $116,790, former State Assistant Secretary Michael McDermott $14,300, former State Secretary Aaron Cartledge $3,500 and CFMMEU NSW official Anthony Sloane $3,000.
In her decision Justice Charlesworth said:
“The CFMMEU’s history of non-compliance is properly described as reprehensible.
“The contraventions involved a blatant and deliberate disregard of the requirements of the law.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said: “Showing a valid right of entry permit is not an onerous requirement on a union official going about his or her official business. One of the most concerning aspects of this case is the attempt to leverage safety for the industrial objectives of the CFMMEU.”
In a significant decision, on 25 June 2018 the Full Federal Court confirmed it would order CFMMEU official Joseph Myles to personally pay his penalty for breaking the law, without seeking or receiving financial assistance from the union.
Mr Myles was made personally liable for a $19,500 penalty following his unlawful blockade of the Regional Rail Link project site in May 2013. In addition, the penalty imposed on the CFMMEU was almost doubled to $111,000.
In its decision the Full Court found “a personal payment order … will bring home to [Mr Myles], and others in his position, that… they cannot act in contravention of the Act knowing that Union funds will always bale him, or them, out.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the landmark decision was directed at preventing CFMMEU funds undercutting the sting or burden of the personal penalty.
“The Full Federal Court’s decision makes clear to all union officials that when you break the law, you can no longer rely upon union members to pick up the tab,” Mr McBurney said.
On 22 June 2018, the Federal Court imposed total penalties of $142,000 on the CFMMEU and three of its officers for taking coercive action at a Carlton building site in March 2015.
The Court ordered the CFMMEU to pay $120,000, Theo Theodorou $8,500, Rob Graauwmans $7,500 and Izmar Miftari $6,000 after the three officers admitted that they stopped critical works and threatened subcontractors at the Cardigan street site.
In imposing the penalty, the Federal Court observed:
“An organisation… which repeatedly incurs not only significant financial penalties but also pointed judicial criticism, would necessarily put in place measures to change the cultural… and the contravening behaviours of its officers and employees. Unless, of course, the senior leadership of the [CFMMEU] …condones such behaviour.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the decision was yet another strong message from the Court to the senior leadership of the CFMMEU that its unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.
On 14 June 2018, the Federal Court penalised the CFMMEU and its official Bradley Upton $51,300 for abusing and threatening construction workers on the Gorgon LNG Project in Western Australia.
During a meeting in December 2015 Mr Upton abused workers for not being members of the union.
Justice Barker said “Mr Upton’s behaviour and conduct… was quite appalling” and the “language used was intended to intimidate employees into accepting that they must be union members if they wanted work.”
The CFMMEU was penalised $43,200 and Mr Upton $8,100.
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said no worker should have to put up with threats and intimidation to join a union if they didn’t want to.