ABCC alleges subcontractor terminated for not having union EBA

ABCC alleges subcontractor terminated for not having union EBA

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has commenced action in the Federal Court against Consolidated Power Projects Australia (CPP) and four of the company’s staff, alleging CPP banned and subsequently terminated a subcontractor because they did not have a union enterprise bargaining agreement.

In August 2019, the subcontractor was engaged by CPP to undertake the installation of high voltage electrical equipment at the Springvale Termination Station project in Victoria.

In the proceedings, the ABCC is alleging that shortly after the contract commenced, CPP banned the subcontractor and then terminated its contract because the company did not have an enterprise agreement with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The ABCC is alleging a number of discussions occurred, including:

  • On 14 August 2019, the subcontractor’s director was told by CPP’s regional manager words to the effect, “I have some bad news. The ETU have found out about us winning the Springvale Terminal Project and that we intend to use [subcontractor] as a labour resource. The ETU are unhappy that [subcontractor] will be utilised on the project.”

  • On 15 August 2019, CPP’s project manager spoke to the same director and requested the company leave the site until the issues with the ETU were resolved. The project manager said words to the effect, “I understand why the union is there, though I don’t really agree with it. I have been asked if you can leave the site and carry on with preparatory works offsite until we can get a resolution.”

  • On 16 August 2019, the regional manager told the subcontractor’s director words to the effect, “We can’t use you on-site as you don’t have an EBA, and the ETU aren’t happy. We don’t want to have to deal with that.”

Subsequently, CPP engaged another contractor to undertake the electrical work and, on 4 October 2019, terminated the original subcontractor’s contract.

The ABCC is alleging that the company’s action of banning the subcontractor from performing work and terminating their contract because they were not covered by an EBA with the union breached s55(1) of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (the Act).

In addition to the company, the ABCC is taking action against four of CPP’s management, alleging they participated in contravening the Act.

The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. In this particular case, the ABCC is also seeking compensation from the company for the loss and damages suffered by the subcontractor.

For queries about the ABCC or enterprise agreements, union interactions or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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