A Court has labelled the CFMEU as “the most recidivist corporate offender in Australian history” while handing down the maximum available penalty of $306,000 after the union breached workplace laws.
In the Federal Circuit Court in Brisbane today, Judge Vasta imposed the maximum penalty on the CFMEU following right of entry breaches by former Queensland CFMEU President Dave Hanna at a Fortitude Valley construction site in February 2015.
Mr Hanna had admitted that when he was asked for a right of entry permit he raised his middle finger and said he didn’t need one.
When a site manager had attempted to record the incident, Mr Hanna had admitted saying: “Take that phone away or I’ll f*cking bury it down your throat.”
He then squirted water at a person which struck them in the face, shirt and mobile phone and used another employee’s swipe card to exit staff from the worksite.
In May this year, Judge Vasta also ordered Mr Hanna to pay the maximum $10,200 penalty for his conduct in this matter.
The decision cited approximately 120 previous occasions that the courts had sanctioned the CFMEU for breaches of industrial law over the past ten years.
Judge Vasta said the contraventions were in “the worst category” and imposed the maximum possible penalty of $306,000 for the six contraventions against the union, saying: "If I could have imposed a greater penalty for these contraventions, I most certainly would have done so.”
The Judge said Mr Hanna had acted in a “most abhorrent way”. He said: “These were not the actions of some over-exuberant maverick from the CFMEU; these were the actions of the President himself … It can only be inferred that the CFMEU condone such actions.”
Judge Vasta said: “For the President of the CFMEU to simply walk on to a construction site without notice is a blatant disregard for the provisions of the FW Act and an obvious hazard for safety … There has been no remorse from the CFMEU.”
Acting ABCC Commissioner Cathy Cato said the penalty decision was significant.
“The conduct in this case is entirely unacceptable on Australian construction sites,” Ms Cato said.
“The imposition of six maximum penalties indicates the seriousness of the contraventions by a repeat offender.
“The Court has sent a powerful message that repeated breaches of workplace laws will not be tolerated.”