17 October 2016 CFMEU and official to face court for allegedly shutting down site

Allegations that a concrete pour at a Brisbane construction site was cancelled because the head contractor had engaged a tiling firm without CFMEU approval have landed the union and one if its representatives, Michael “Mick” Myles in court. 

Fair Work Building and Construction has initiated proceedings claiming the CFMEU and Mr Myles organised unlawful industrial action in retaliation against the contractor. FWBC’s statement of claim alleges as follows:

  • Mr Myles attended the RNA K1 Commercial Tower project on 21 January 2015 and met with site management. During the meeting, Mr Myles said the head contractor had engaged a tiling company that did not have “an approved EBA”.
  • In response, the head contractor pointed out that the tiling company had a current and valid enterprise agreement, arguing that there was no legal reason to prevent the engagement of a subcontractor who was not approved by the CFMEU.
  • In response, Mr Myles made threatening remarks to the effect of “What will it cost you if the job is shut down?”. He also referred to industrial action that stopped work for more than two months at the Queensland Children’s Hospital site, stating “you know what happened there”. He then told the head contractor he would see them next week.
  • At 5.30am on 29 January 2015, Mr Myles attended the site and spoke to employees outside the project. At 6.00am, Mr Myles then held a meeting with about 60 workers. At the conclusion of the meeting, the employees left the site.
  • When approached by the site manager Mr Myles told him “They’ve left the site because of the tilers. We’re not happy with the tilers”.
  • As a result of the industrial action, a concrete pour that had been scheduled to take place that day had to be cancelled.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that no individual or company in the Australian workplace should be held to ransom for seeking to exercise their lawful rights.

“These are serious allegations. Unlawful work stoppages can be costly and cause significant delays to important infrastructure projects. Unfortunately the construction industry is over‑represented when it comes to days lost to industrial action,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“FWBC will continue to work diligently in an effort to see the rule of law restored in the construction sector. Australia’s workplace laws are clear; all we ask is that all parties abide by the provisions set out in the Fair Work Act 2009.”  

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