25 May 2016CFMEU in court for coercion after allegedly blockading construction site

The CFMEU and two of its officials are facing civil penalties in the Federal Court after allegedly blockading a Melbourne building site in an attempt to force a construction company to sign up to an enterprise agreement with the union.

FWBC’s statement of claim outlines the following allegations:

  • On the morning of 5 December 2014, CFMEU official Drew MacDonald parked a vehicle across the entrance to the Aldi Supermarket construction site in Altona, saying to the site manager, “no panels going up today”.

  • Mr MacDonald, CFMEU official John Duggan and others who were not working on the site then stood around the vehicle and a second vehicle that had been parked across the entrance, preventing access by trucks carrying construction equipment and materials to the site. As a result, no building work was able to take place that day. The Victorian Police were called to the site to monitor the situation and ensure it did not escalate.

  • Mr MacDonald returned to the site on the morning of 8 December 2014 and again blockaded the entrance with a vehicle, preventing any building work from occurring on the site for a second day.

  • These actions followed a number of representations made by Mr MacDonald to the construction company in November 2014, requesting that they make an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU. When the company refused, Mr MacDonald said “I wish you good luck ’cause there will be trouble.”

  • The blockade also followed several representations made by Mr Duggan to a subcontractor engaged by the construction company, demanding that the subcontractor refuse to carry out work on the site on the basis that the head contractor did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.

FWBC Nigel Hadgkiss said that such instances of coercion were all too common in the building and construction industry.

“Blockading a site for the purposes of coercion is not only unlawful, but hugely costly to the companies involved and to the productivity of the industry as a whole,” he said. 

“Under the Fair Work Act 2009, there is no such thing as a ‘union EBA only project'. FWBC will continue to investigate such cases to ensure that building industry participants are free to enter into whatever enterprise agreement they choose.”

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