The Federal Court has today handed down penalties totalling $245,500 in two cases in Tasmania involving the CFMMEU and its official Richard Hassett.
The CFMMEU has been penalised $220,000 and Mr Hassett $25,500 following two cases launched by the ABCC in 2016 and 2017.
Both cases relate to contraventions of right of entry laws by Mr Hassett on the $21.8 million Brooker Highway Project in Hobart in October 2016 and on the Parliament Square Stage 1A project site on multiple occasions in 2015.
At the time of the entry on the Brooker Highway site, Mr Hassett used abusive language, calling a human resource manager a “… f**king incompetent c*nt” and threatening to close the site down.
Justice Tracey in his 20 July 2018 judgment found the claim by Mr Hassett that he was at the site to deal with safety issues was: “…both a falsehood and contrivance.”
In the other case, Mr Hassett entered the Parliament Square Stage 1A project site without providing an entry notice.
When the site foreman told Mr Hassett he could not talk to the workers as it was not break time, Mr Hassett replied “You can’t f**king stop me.”
Mr Hassett entered the Parliament Square site on subsequent occasions, again abusing workers, including telling the construction manager to “f**k off”, calling the project manager a “f**king c*nt” and swearing at the site workplace health and safety representative.
The Tasmanian Police had to be called on one occasion on 5 November 2015.
Justice Tracey in his Brooker Highway penalty decision said:
“…Mr Hassett had failed to comply with the notice requirements of s487, had responded dismissively when challenged about his failure to give this notice, had failed to leave the site when told he was not entitled to be there, had remained on the site for almost two hours after being challenged and, during that period had repeatedly directed foul and abusive language and made personally disparaging statement to site managers.”
Justice Tracey also went on to say:
“It is no understatement to describe his verbal outbursts as “insulting, demeaning, indecent, and profane”.
Justice Tracey also said of the CFMMEU:
“…the statements made by the union’s officials in this case make plain that Mr Hassett’s misconduct occurred because he was giving effect to a union policy.”
In relation to Mr Hassett’s conduct on the Parliament Square site Justice Tracey said:
“He should not have been on site in the first place and he should have complied with the requirements of the [Fair Work Act] once he was on site.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said today’s penalties take to $822,500 the amount of union member’s hard-earned money the CFMMEU has been ordered to pay just in the past four days.
“The workplace laws are very clear that union officials wanting to enter a worksite must provide appropriate notice and show a valid right of entry permit,” Mr McBurney said.
“Mr Hassett’s behaviour on site, particularly his demeaning and abusive statements, has been justifiably condemned by the Court in the two judgments issued today.”