14 September 2017Court orders $145,950 in penalties over unlawful industrial action at NT gas project

The Federal Court today handed down penalties totalling $145,950 in relation to unlawful action that halted work at the Ichthys LNG Project in Darwin.

Former CFMEU organiser Michael Huddy was ordered to pay $16,000 and delegate Craig Tait, $12,250, for their involvement in unlawful action at the Ichthys LNG Project on 22 October 2013 after workers failed to return to work after a meeting to discuss bus departure times at the site.

The Federal Court found that 62 workers at the site, including the CFMEU’s site delegate Mr Tait, engaged in unlawful industrial action and failed to try and resolve the matter using a dispute resolution clause in their enterprise agreement.

The Court found the unlawful industrial action taken by 61 workers was carried out with the intent of coercing their employer to change the bus departure times.

Justice White found that Mr Huddy and Mr Tait had “aided and abetted” the contraventions by the workers. He described Mr Huddy’s actions as “deliberate and blatant” and “was dismissive” of the requests of security staff to leave the site.

In his judgment, Justice White said in several decisions this Court has spoken of the CFMEU’s “appalling record of contraventions”:

It is apparent that the CFMEU chooses to ignore and, on occasion, to defy, the law as and when it chooses.

ABCC Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said today’s decision again saw the Federal Court comment on the CFMEU’s repeated willingness to take part in major unlawful action.

“This matter could and should have been resolved through established legal processes but instead what we saw was a mass unlawful conduct,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Resorting to coercion and unlawful industrial action are simply not acceptable ways to resolve workplace disputes.”

Link to ABCC legal case summary.

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