21 February 2013Vic CFMEU penalised $10,000 for abuse and assault threats

The Federal Magistrates Court at Melbourne ordered the CFMEU to pay a penalty of $10,000 after the union admitted that its organiser, Derek Christopher, repeatedly abused a site manager and threatened him with assault.

The unlawful conduct took place on the RMIT Building 13 construction site in La Trobe Street in October 2009 when Mr Christopher was attempting to coerce the site manager to allow the site steward to attend inductions.

FWBC Chief Executive Leigh Johns said the coercive behavior was unlawful under 

s348 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act).

“It is unlawful to attempt to coerce someone to do something they don’t want to do and such behavior has no place in today’s Australian construction industry,” Mr Johns said.

“FWBC will not tolerate cases like this, where threats of violence and abuse using obscene language are used.

“Australia’s construction industry should be fair and productive and people should not have to put up with that kind of treatment in the workplace. There are other, more co-operative and effective ways to work out disputes.”

The union admitted that Mr Christopher attended the site on 9 October 2009 and demanded that the site manager revert to the head contractor, Hooker Cockram’s, previous practice of allowing the shop steward to attend inductions.

In attempting to coerce the site manager, Mr Christopher threatened him with assault and repeatedly abused him using obscene language. In a later meeting between Hooker Cockram and CFMEU representatives, Hooker Cockram, acceded to the union’s request that the shop steward attend future site inductions.

FWBC is the independent, stand along regulator of workplace relations laws in Australia’s construction industry. One of our roles is to investigate and prosecute breaches of the FW Act in the construction industry.

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