CFMMEU officials facing court for allegedly stopping crane on Devonport construction site

The ABCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMMEU and two of its officials for allegedly contravening right of entry laws at the Living City Project in Devonport, Tasmania.

CFMMEU officials Richard Hassett and Kevin Harkins are alleged to have hindered, obstructed and acted in an improper manner on two separate occasions on 5 and 6 June 2017 and failed to comply with occupational health and safety requirements on the site.

In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Tasmania, the ABCC has alleged:

  • At about 12pm on 5 June 2017, Mr Harkins and Mr Hassett attended the site office citing safety as a reason for their site entry.
  • Shortly after, when a site manager asked Mr Hassett for his entry notice, Mr Hassett gave the site manager the middle finger and said words to the effect “Get f--ked, that will never happen.”
  • Mr Hassett then climbed into the cabin of a crane that was in operation and stopped it from performing its work for about 20 minutes while he spoke to the crane operator about pay rates and joining the union. Mr Harkins was present during this exchange.
  • At all times, the crane had a sign that stated “No unauthorised interruption of operator during crane operation
  • While speaking to the crane operator, Mr Hassett called the construction manager and in the course of the conversation the construction manager told Mr Hassett words to the effect “Get off the crane it’s unsafe.”
  • On the following day, 6 June 2017, Mr Hassett entered the site and stopped the crane again while it was in operation.
  • Mr Hassett then told the crane operator that “we are chasing [the subcontractor] to sign an EBA” to which the crane operator replied “You are speaking to the wrong person, get off my crane”.

The maximum penalty for a breach of the Fair Work Act in this case is $54,000 for bodies corporate and $10,800 for individuals.

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