FWBC alleges worker stopped from working on site for not being a CFMEU member

FWBC has filed proceedings in the Federal Court against the CFMEU and its officer, Andrew Harisiou, for allegedly refusing to allow a worker who was not a member of the CFMEU to work on the Pacific Werribee Shopping Centre site.

Mr Harisiou, a CFMEU site delegate, is alleged to have also coerced another worker to pay membership fees to the CFMEU before he was allowed to work on the site.

In its Statement of Claim, FWBC alleges as follows:

  • On 4 August 2015, Mr Harisiou spoke with workers about the CFMEU, the benefits of membership and related industrial matters. At the end of the session, Mr Harisiou asked any workers who were not paid-up union members to “hang back”, and told them “if you’re not part of the union, you’re not allowed on this site”.

  • When one of the workers said he did not wish to join the union, Mr Harisiou said “Well, you’re not getting on site”. When the worker’s employer asked Mr Harisiou to allow his worker on the site, Mr Harisiou responded “Nuh. Chuck him on a train, send him home, do whatever you want to do, but he’s not getting on site”.

  • The worker was prevented from performing any work on the site that day.

  • When Mr Harisiou found out that another worker was not up to date with his CFMEU membership dues, Mr Harisiou told him that “you need to pay your fees if you want to go on site”. Mr Harisiou then rang the union offices and required the worker to immediately pay the membership fee over the phone. The worker’s employer paid the fee on the worker’s behalf so that he would be allowed on site.

  • Mr Harisiou’s statements to the effect that CFMEU membership was a requirement for working on the site were false and misleading, and were made with the intent to coerce the workers to join the union and pay union fees.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that such closed shop practices have no place in the building and construction industry, or any other Australian workplace.

“In this case we are alleging the CFMEU prevented a worker from doing his job simply because he was exercising his workplace rights, while another worker felt he had no choice but to give in to the union’s demands,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“The law requires that all workers must be free to choose whether or not they wish to join a union. FWBC will continue to take action where necessary to protect workers’ freedom of association.”

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