CFMEU officials allegedly threaten non unionised workers

Workers at Queensland’s Gladstone Boardwalk project are said to have been threatened that they would be removed from the job and banned from other construction sites in Queensland unless they joined the CFMEU, according to claims filed in the Federal Circuit Court by Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC).

In its Statement of Claim, FWBC alleges as follows:

  • that the CFMEU and two of its officers, Jody Moses and Gregg Churchman, breached the Fair Work Act 2009 when they issued the ultimatum to construction workers during a meeting on 11 September 2013;

  • Mr Moses and Mr Churchman met with workers on 11 September 2013 and told them that no work would occur that day and they would be removed from the project unless they joined the CFMEU;

  • during the meeting, workers were also told the project was a union site and CFMEU membership was compulsory for them to work on it;

  • workers were told that they had 5 minutes to think about joining the union;

  • following some discussion, Mr Moses agreed to give workers 48 hours to decide what they wanted to do;

  • on 13 September another meeting took place;

  • during this meeting Mr Churchman resolved to return with information on the cost of joining the CFMEU at a later date;

  • Mr Moses and Mr Churchman returned to the site on 18 December 2013; and

  • Mr Moses, in the presence of Mr Churchman had a heated exchange with the project manager stating: “Any of the (contractor) employees who do not join the union by lunchtime Friday 20 September won’t be allowed on the Boardwalk Project or any other CFMEU site in Queensland”.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the alleged actions by CFMEU officials revealed their patent disregard for the workplace right of freedom of association.

“No worker should have to face these kinds of threats.” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“In this case, CFMEU officials allegedly threatened workers’ livelihoods in order to coerce them to join the union. These are not the actions of an organisation that puts the rights and needs of workers first.”

“FWBC will continue to investigate and prosecute cases where workers’ freedom of association is being hindered,” Mr Hadgkiss said. 

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a corporation per breach.

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