|Penalties imposed this financial year to date||Penalties imposed last financial year|
*$3,357,800 subject to appeal
On 2 October the CFMMEU’s former South Australian organiser Mark Gava was penalised $6,000 and his union $68,000 following Mr Gava breaching right of entry laws at the Flinders Medical Centre project in Adelaide in December 2016.
In imposing the penalty the Federal Court found Mr Gava unlawfully misrepresented his right to access the project site and meet with workers while not having a valid right of entry permit.
Justice White in his judgment stated:
“Neither Mr Gava nor the CFMMEU has made any expression of regret or contrition...”
“The CFMMEU's record of contraventions of industrial legislation is appalling. Since 2000, it has been found to have contravened industrial legislation on more than 140 separate occasions;…”
“On any view, this is a deplorable record of contraventions. It must be taken into account in assessing penalties in the present case.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said:
“Mr Gava chose to ignore the law and as a consequence he, and the CFMMEU, have been ordered to pay significant penalties to the Commonwealth.”
CFMMEU penalised $81,600 after threatening to “go to war” with Royal Adelaide Hospital subcontractor
On 27 August 2018, the Federal Court penalised the CFMMEU $81,600 after its Assistant State Secretary Jim O’Connor and site delegate Jack Merkx attempted to coerce a subcontractor to terminate a worker and replace him with a union office holder at the Royal Adelaide Hospital site in 2014.
The Court penalised the CFMMEU $71,400 and Mr Merkx $10,200 for the conduct.
The Court had previously penalised Assistant State Secretary Jim O’Connor $12,000 for his conduct at the site after he was found in contempt of court for breaching an earlier injunction.
In his decision Justice Besanko said:
“There is no evidence of contrition and, in fact, the respondents sought to downplay the seriousness of the threat.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said:
“It’s unconscionable that CFMMEU officials saw fit to threaten a subcontractor and attempted to force him to sack a worker and replace him with a union office holder. The union officials showed complete disregard for the rights of the worker. Any worker must have a right to choose to join or not join a union.”
The Federal Court on 16 August 2018 handed down penalties totalling $245,500 in two cases in Tasmania involving the CFMMEU and its official Richard Hassett.
The CFMMEU has been penalised $220,000 and Mr Hassett $25,500 following two cases launched by the ABCC in 2016 and 2017.
Both cases relate to contraventions of right of entry laws by Mr Hassett on the $21.8 million Brooker Highway Project in Hobart in October 2016 and on the Parliament Square Stage 1A project site on multiple occasions in 2015. Mr Hassett used abusive language on both sites.
Justice Tracey in his Brooker Highway penalty decision said:
“…Mr Hassett had failed to comply with the notice requirements of s487, had responded dismissively when challenged about his failure to give this notice, had failed to leave the site when told he was not entitled to be there, had remained on the site for almost two hours after being challenged and, during that period had repeatedly directed foul and abusive language and made personally disparaging statement to site managers.”
In relation to Mr Hassett’s conduct on the Parliament Square site Justice Tracey said:
“He should not have been on site in the first place and he should have complied with the requirements of the [Fair Work Act] once he was on site.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said:
“The workplace laws are very clear that union officials wanting to enter a worksite must provide appropriate notice and show a valid right of entry permit. “Mr Hassett’s behaviour on site, particularly his demeaning and abusive statements, has been justifiably condemned by the Court in the two judgments issued today.”
On 14 August 2018, the Federal Court imposed penalties totalling $271,500 against the CFMMEU and its officials Nigel Davies and Alex Tadic, after they refused to show their right of entry permits and were abusive when asked to do so at the Bendigo Theatre site in Victoria.
Earlier this year the Court found Mr Davies acted in an improper manner when he refused to produce his entry permit when asked to do so on 22 July 2014 and 29 July 2014.
Mr Tadic was found to have engaged in a “lengthy and foul-mouthed tirade” when asked to explain his presence on the site on 1 August 2014.
The CFMMEU was penalised $245,000 while its officials Nigel Davies and Alex Tadic were penalised $19,000 and $7,500 respectively for contravening right of entry laws at the site in July and August 2014.
In his judgment, Justice Tracey said:
“The CFMEU has failed to acknowledge any wrongdoing or take corrective steps to ensure that such conduct ceases. These failures lead to the irresistible inference that the officials are acting in accordance with the instructions or policies adopted by those responsible for the governance of the organisation.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the abusive and unlawful conduct exhibited by both union officials in the case was unacceptable.
“The union officials, rather than simply producing their entry permits when asked to do so opted to engage in abusive and threatening behaviour. “It is a matter of serious concern that Victoria Police resources had to be diverted to the site because of the unlawful conduct of both union officials.”
Full Federal Court reinforces concerns over CFMMEU’s blatant unlawful behaviour; upholds maximum penalty
The Full Federal Court on 14 August 2018 upheld an earlier decision of the Federal Circuit Court to impose maximum penalties on the CFMMEU for the unlawful conduct in February 2015 of its then Queensland President Dave Hanna.
In October 2017 the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane imposed the maximum penalty of $306,000 on the CFMMEU following Mr Hanna contravening right of entry laws at a Fortitude Valley construction site and threatening to bury a mobile phone down a site manager’s throat.
Following the CFMMEU appealing the decision, the Full Federal Court upheld the seriousness of the union’s conduct by imposing the maximum penalty of $51,000 for all six contraventions – a total of $306,000.
Justice Tracey in his judgment stated:
“The contravening conduct has continued unabated to a point where there is an irresistible inference that the CFMEU has determined that its officials will not comply with the requirements of the FW Act with which it disagrees. If this results in civil penalties being imposed they will be paid and treated as the cost of the union pursuing its industrial ends. The union simply regards itself as free to disobey the law.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said the Full Federal Court decision reinforced the CFMMEU’s direct responsibility for the actions of its officials.
“At the time of Judge Vasta’s decision he stated that there had: ‘been no remorse from the CFMEU’,” Mr McBurney said.
“Today’s Full Federal Court decision to impose the maximum penalty highlights the seriousness with which the courts view the unlawful behaviour of the CFMMEU and its lack of accountability of its officials.”
Following a landmark ruling by the High Court earlier this year, the Full Federal Court on 2 August 2018 ordered CFMMEU official Joseph Myles to personally pay a penalty of $19,500. The order prevented Mr Myles from seeking any financial benefit from the CFMMEU to pay the penalty.
It was the first order of its kind and follows Mr Myles’ unlawful blockade of the Regional Rail Link project in Victoria.
The Full Federal Court in June increased Mr Myles’ penalty to $19,500 and the penalty imposed on the CFMMEU was significantly increased to $111,000 for its contraventions of the Fair Work Act.
In its June ruling the Full Federal Court highlighted the importance of personal penalties as an important deterrence of unlawful activities:
“The Union acts through its officials, of whom Mr Myles was, and is, one. The penalty against the individual must be a burden or have a sting to be a deterrent.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said today’s order “sends an important message that union officials have to comply with the law like everyone else and should not expect union members to pick up the tab for their unlawful conduct.”