CFMEU penalised $178,450 for Grocon picket: union’s record of non-compliance “an embarrassment”

The Federal Court has today handed down penalties totalling $178,450 against the CFMEU and six of its officials for organising a picket and disrupting work for three days at a Docklands construction site, as part of an ongoing dispute between the union and Grocon.

In February 2011 five CFMEU Victoria officials, namely Assistant Secretary Elias Spernovasilis, Assistant State Secretary Shaun Reardon, Vice President Derek Christopher, Billy Beattie and Theo Theodorou, formed a picket at the Yarra Edge Tower 8 building site at Docklands, blocking access to the site and preventing the delivery and erection of a tower crane and other materials by Grocon.

The then CFMEU State Secretary Bill Oliver told Grocon management the union had organised the picket because the union wanted Grocon to employ an additional person on the crane crew and the employee representatives to be persons nominated by the CFMEU.

The Court found that by blockading the site the CFMEU and its officials engaged in unlawful industrial action in order to require Grocon to accede to its demands.

In his judgment, Justice Jessup said the CFMEU’s record of non-compliance with workplace law has now become notorious.

“That record ought to be an embarrassment to the trade union movement,” he said.

As the case was filed by the former Australian Building and Construction Commission in April 2012, the matter was determined under the former Building Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005, which included higher penalties than currently apply.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the case once again highlighted the lawlessness that pervades the building and construction industry.   

“This case is yet another example of the CFMEU showing a complete disregard for workplace laws and using their industrial might to enforce its own illegitimate agenda,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“We welcome this judgment. Building industry participants have the right to feel re-assured that anyone who seeks to abuse the law in this manner will be brought before the courts. My hope is that penalties like these will act as a deterrent to others from engaging in such flagrant contraventions of the law.”

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