The Federal Circuit Court has today handed down penalties totalling $112,000 against 64 employees who took part in unlawful industrial action at a Fortitude Valley construction site in September 2018.

The employees were engaged to work on the FV1 – Stage 2 project involving the construction of 267 residential apartments and 50 short-term residential units.

The unlawful industrial action took place on 11 September 2018 after two CFMMEU representatives met with employees at the site prior to them starting work in the morning.

Following the meeting, the 64 employees did not return to work and instead left the site for the remainder of the day.

All 64 employees admitted to engaging in unlawful industrial action in contravention of section 46 of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016.  Each of the 64 employees was penalised $1,750 for their actions.

In his decision, Judge Jarrett said:

“There has not … been any express statement of remorse or contrition by any of the respondents. The respondents have not apologised for their unlawful conduct.”  

“Fixing a penalty in this case requires the Court to ensure that the relevant purposes of the Building and Construction Industry Act are met.  The main object of the Act is to provide an improved workplace relations framework for building work to ensure that building work is carried out fairly, efficiently and productively…. That objective is achieved by, amongst other things, promoting respect for the rule of law, ensuring respect for the rights of building industry participants and ensuring that building industry participants are accountable for their unlawful conduct.” 

Acting Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Matt Kelleher said the judgment highlighted the penalties that can be imposed against employees who choose to engage in unlawful industrial action.

“In this instance 64 employees of various subcontractors decided to engage in unlawful industrial action following a meeting with two CFMMEU representatives instead of resorting to lawful means to resolve their issues,” Mr Kelleher said.

“The ABCC will continue to ensure all building industry participants are accountable for unlawful conduct on Australia’s building and construction projects. 

The ABCC is available to provide assistance and advice to building and construction employees about their rights and responsibilities, including in relation to industrial action.”

The ABCC’s hotline is 1800 003 338 or the ABCC OnSite app can be downloaded via the Apple app store or Google Play.

Media Release
25 January 2021