10 October 2016 Workers not allowed to work after refusing CFMEU demands for fees, FWBC alleges

The CFMEU and one of its officers, Daniel Barker, will appear in the Federal Circuit Court following a claim lodged by FWBC alleging that two Brisbane construction workers were told they could not work on a project unless they paid fees to the CFMEU.

The workers had been scheduled to perform two days of work at the Zest Apartments Project in January 2016; however they left the site after Mr Barker allegedly told them the project was a union site and that without paying union fees they were not permitted to work.

In its statement of claim, FWBC alleges as follows:

  • Before attending a site induction, the first worker was asked by Mr Barker for his name and date of birth. The worker supplied this information to Mr Barker.
  • Following the induction, Mr Barker told the worker that he owed $1,290 in union fees and had to pay this amount in order to work on the site.
  • When the worker said he did not have the money as he had only recently returned from overseas, Mr Barker made a phone call after which told the worker to pay $520.
  • The worker said he could not pay that amount but was willing to pay forty or fifty dollars per week. Mr Barker told the worker that either he or his employer needed to pay the $520 or the worker could not work on the site.
  • The worker did not pay the fees and left the site without performing any work.
  • The second worker began work on the site as scheduled but was approached and asked for his name and date of birth by Mr Barker after a scheduled break.
  • After making a phone call to do a “credit check” on the worker, Mr Barker told him that his CFMEU membership had run out and he now owed $1,290 in fees.
  • The worker responded that he did not think payment was justified as he was only on the site for two days. Mr Barker told him that “if you don’t want to pay the fees, you cannot work on site”. The worker left the site without performing any further work.
  • When asked by the site manager why he was sending workers away from the site, Mr Barker said “They’re not in the union and they won’t join and they can’t be on site, this is an EBA site”. The site manager responded that the workers had a right to not be in the union and to work on the site, to which Mr Barker replied “No, everybody’s got to be in the union, this is an EBA site”.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that all workers must be free to choose whether or not they wish to join a union, without this decision impacting on their job prospects or livelihood.

“Closed shop practices are unlawful and threaten the fundamental workplace right of freedom of association,” Mr Hadgkiss said. “They cannot be tolerated in the building and construction industry, or any other Australian workplace.”

PDF icon Media release - Workers not allowed to work after refusing CFMEU demands for fees, FWBC alleges (PDF 295KB)