CFMEU in court for allegedly closing down Geelong Grammar construction site

The CFMEU and one of its officials, Brendan Murphy, are facing Federal Court action following claims Mr Murphy breached right of entry provisions and delayed construction work being undertaken at the Geelong Grammar School on 3 December 2014.

In its statement of claim, FWBC alleges the following:

  • Mr Murphy entered the construction site, located within the School grounds, saying he wanted to hold discussion with workers. Mr Murphy was repeatedly asked by the site manager to present his right of entry permit but refused to show his permit to the site manager. When the site manager said he would have to call police if Mr Murphy did not produce an entry permit, Mr Murphy responded by saying: “Go ahead” and “you know better than that”.
  • Mr Murphy then proceeded to conduct a meeting with workers where he sought to ascertain if they were covered by an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU and Incolink (an insurance and redundancy fund). Mr Murphy told the workers who attended the meeting that he was closing the site down.
  • The workers that attended the meeting then ceased work and left the site for the remainder of the day. As a result, works scheduled for that day were not completed. By closing down the site, Mr Murphy hindered and obstructed the head contractor and subcontractors engaged on the site.  
  • Mr Murphy then phoned the general manager of the head contractor to complain that the subcontractors were not covered by enterprise agreements and that the CFMEU had not been informed that the project had commenced. Mr Murphy told the general manager words to the effect that “You’re sh*tting in my backyard… I’m going to shut down this site.”

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said right-of-entry provisions in the Fair Work Act were designed to provide permit holders access to worksites to carry out genuine business in the interest of workers.

“Right-of-entry is not an excuse to go on to a building site and tell a head-contractor who can and can’t perform work on the site,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Behaviour such as this undermines our industrial relations system. I am concerned that persistent abuses of right-of-entry provisions in the building and construction sector will lead to site occupiers being reluctant to take union officials on their word when they are seeking access for legitimate reasons.”

“If this occurs, access to sites may become more adversarial and it will be workers who lose out. I encourage all building industry participants to respect the Fair Work Act 2009 and adhere to their responsibilities under the law,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

PDF icon CFMEU in court for allegedly closing down Geelong Grammar construction site