The Federal Court in Victoria has today penalised the CFMMEU and its senior official Alex Tadic a total of $59,500 for abusing a Victorian WorkSafe official.
The case related to the 2014 construction of the Castlemaine Police Station.
- The CFMMEU was penalised $51,000 – 100 per cent of the maximum available penalty.
- Mr Tadic was penalised $8,500 – 83 per cent of the maximum available penalty.
The Court found Mr Tadic intimidated and abused a WorkSafe Inspector while he was attempting to perform his duties investigating the health and safety of workers.
The ABCC successfully appealed an earlier Federal Court decision dismissing its case against Mr Tadic and the CFMMEU.
The Federal Court today stated:
“The permit Mr Tadic had to enter the site was not a license to bully, intimidate or threaten [the WorkSafe inspector], or anyone else for that matter…
“In my view Mr Tadic abused that power by his conduct towards [the WorkSafe inspector]. Such conduct would not be tolerated in a workplace as between employees or as between an employer and employee.
“Mr Tadic’s behaviour, by any measure, amounted to bullying and intimidation."
The Federal Court also found that Mr Tadic’s unlawful conduct was “within or close to the worst category of cases for contravention of… the FW Act.”
“Intimidating and abusive behaviour by a Union official permitted to enter a site for the vital purpose of protecting the health and safety of workers on the site must be condemned in the strongest terms."
In relation to the CFMMEU’s recidivist behaviour, the Federal Court stated:
“I have no wish to add my voice to the chorus of condemnation of the Union’s systematic unlawfulness, for there is nothing of substance to add to what has already been said repeatedly.
“Indeed the Union’s unabated recidivism is reason to infer that the more often condemnation to the same effect is repeated with no apparent deterrent effect, the more emboldened the union may become in its defiance."
Mr Tadic’s history of offending includes:
- Unlawful industrial action and coercion on the Monash Project site – penalty: $8,000.
- Unlawful industrial action on the Eastlink Freeway Project site – penalty: $2,500.
- Obstruction and hindrance on the Bendigo Theatre site, where he used profane and indecent language and acted in an aggressive manner – penalty: $7,500.
ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said today’s penalty judgment showed the CFMMEU was prepared to use unlawful tactics against health and safety officials in order to get their way.
“Mr Tadic requested the WorkSafe inspector attend the site to determine whether the site was unsafe,” Mr McBurney said.
“When the inspector conducted his safety inspection he was subjected to abuse and behaviour that the Court found amounted to ‘bullying and intimidation’.
“The ABCC will defend the rights of authorised health and safety officials to go about their important work free from abuse and intimidation.
“Mr Tadic and the union’s track record demonstrates that this is not an isolated case, but a pattern of disregard for the law.
"The union has done nothing to address this unlawful conduct resulting in the Court imposing significant penalties on Mr Tadic and the CFMMEU.”
Today’s judgment brings the CFMMEU’s total penalties to $9.13 million as a result of ABCC action since 2 December 2016.