13 September 2017Court to impose maximum penalties of over $1 million for “worse union behaviour” and refers CFMEU officials to DPP for investigation into false testimony

The Federal Court has today imposed maximum penalties on the CFMEU and penalised a number of senior officials, including the State Secretary, Brian Parker for unlawful conduct at the Barangaroo site in Sydney.

Justice Flick also referred four CFMEU officials to the Director of Public Prosecutions for allegedly giving false testimony during these proceedings brought by the ABCC.

The CFMEU is facing penalties of $1.3 million in total for their unlawful actions. The Court has indicated that it will also order penalties on CFMEU officials.

The Court previously found the CFMEU forced a shutdown of the site in support of their union delegate Peter Genovese who had been suspended from his employment after incidents of throwing a punch at a site manager and threatening to “kill” him.

Justice Flick said that Mr Parker and other senior CFMEU officials had led industrial action involving more than 1,000 workers which shut down the site on 24 and 25 July 2014.

The Judge said those workers who had attempted to enter the site were abused by CFMEU officials and called “scum” and “dogs”.  A policewoman at the site described how Mr Parker “made sure that I was feeling either intimidated or scared”.

CFMEU NSW Assistant State Secretary Robert Kera was heard describing our agency Inspectors as “f*cking dogs”. In addition, union organiser Luke Collier had deliberately read out an Inspector’s mobile telephone number during an address to workers.  Mr Collier had told the Inspector: “you’re a f*cking grub” and “you’re lower than a paedophile you grub”.

In finding that maximum penalties should be imposed on the CFMEU, Justice Flick said:

The CFMEU has long demonstrated by its conduct that it pays but little regard to compliance with the law and indeed has repeatedly sought to place itself above the law.

The CFMEU is to be regarded as a recidivist offender.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to envisage any worse conduct than that pursued by the CFMEU.

The CFMEU assumes a prominent role in the industrial affairs of this country and has consistently exhibited a contempt for compliance with the law.

The conduct of its officers and employees has consistently shown a total contempt for the rights of occupiers and a total contempt for the constraints imposed by the law.

It is difficult to perceive how such conduct can be regarded as in the best interests of the bulk of its members and the workers it supposedly represents. Such conduct may promote the CFMEU as a militant union.

The judge said it was “not possible to envisage worse union behaviour”.

The CFMEU’s conduct exposes a cavalier disregard for the prior penalties imposed by this Court and exposes the fact that such prior impositions have failed to act a deterrent against further unlawful industrial action.           

The Judge has also ordered the CFMEU to publish notices in two Sydney newspapers and the CFMEU’s journal about the unlawful conduct of its officials.

ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said today’s judgment reflected the seriousness of yet further unlawful conduct by the CFMEU and its officials, who are repeat offenders.

“This was a particularly serious dispute which saw threats and intimidation of workers trying to get back to work, as well as a female police officer and Inspectors just doing their job,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“This was a case in which the Federal Court has penalised the CFMEU and numerous officials for another example of calculated defiance and contravention of workplace laws.”

Link to ABCC  legal case summary.

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