In a significant decision today the Full Federal Court confirmed it will order a CFMMEU official to personally pay his penalty for breaking the law, without seeking or receiving financial assistance from the union. 

This decision follows the ABCC’s successful High Court appeal in February this year.

CFMMEU official Joseph Myles has been 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 for three contraventions of the Fair Work Act.

In 2013 Mr Myles organised a blockade involving nine vehicles and around 20 individuals during a critical concrete pour preventing trucks from entering the Regional Rail site and resulting in tonnes of concrete going to waste.

The blockade held up the project in order to coerce the head contractor to put on site a CFMMEU delegate. Mr Myles also threatened the site superintendent with “war” if his demand was not met.

In imposing penalties, the Full Federal Court found:

… the Union is prepared, when it suits it, to contravene the Act and …seek to coerce employers to comply with its demands.

The history of contravening by the Union, all undertaken through its officials, reflects a willingness to contravene the Act and pay the penalties as a cost of its approach to industrial relations.

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 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.

This landmark decision is directed at preventing CFMMEU funds undercutting the sting or burden of the personal penalty.

The decision of the High Court and Full Court in this case now clears the way for personal payment orders to be sought in appropriate cases currently before the Courts.

The matter will be back before the Full Court to determine the final orders.