Claims of physical confrontation and industrial threats land SA union officials in Court

Three CFMEU officials, including South Australian assistant secretary Michael McDermott, are facing Federal Court action following incidents that allegedly occurred on an Adelaide building site late in 2015.

Fair Work Building and Construction has filed a claim against Mr McDermott and CFMEU officials Mark Gava and Jimmy O’Connor for allegedly threatening to shut down the South Terrace construction site.

FWBC’s statement of claim also alleges Mr Gava physically remonstrated with the site’s project manager, damaging the project manager’s property in the process.

It is alleged that on 30 November 2015, Mr McDermott entered the site and claimed it was not up to standard, calling for a larger lunchroom with a separate office and a plumbed toilet or he would shut the site down.

Subsequently, on 4 December 2015, SafeWork SA inspected the site’s amenities and found they were in fact compliant with legislation. The site’s project manager phoned Mr Gava to inform him of the outcome.

Despite the outcome of the SafeWork SA inspection, Mr Gava and Mr O’Connor then entered the site on 9 December 2015 where they allegedly repeated the threat to shut the site down then initiated a stop-work meeting that resulted in all activity ceasing on the site.

Following the stop-work meeting, Mr Gava and Mr O’Connor allegedly became aggressive toward the site manager when attempting to retrieve their WHS notices. FWBC claims Mr Gava lunged at the site manager, grabbing his left wrist and attempting to pull the notices out of the site manager’s front pocket.

As a result of the alleged physical altercation, the site manager was pushed into a fence and his wrist watch was damaged. South Australia Police were notified of the incident.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said threats and physical violence must be stamped out of the construction industry

“Threats, abuse and physical altercations are unacceptable in any workplace and the construction industry is no different. Unfortunately we are seeing a number of cases involving this type of behavior,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

A directions hearing has been set for 24 March 2016.

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