The ABCC has announced its latest court action against the CFMMEU and two Queensland officials alleging the union contravened the Fair Work Act 2009 (FWA) through the actions of its organisers on the M1 Motorway project south of Brisbane in April 2021.
The primary claim against the organisers is that they contravened the right of entry requirements and repeatedly refused to comply with directions from site management to depart exclusion zones and relocate to a safe area on the project.
The ABCC’s statement of claim alleges that:
On 19 April 2021, two CFMMEU officials used one of the site vehicle access points and failed to report to the site office upon entry to the project.
On the same day, both officials entered an exclusion zone without permission where heavy machinery was operating. Despite being repeatedly asked to move from the area, the officials refused to do so, resulting in the works being halted.
Whilst in the exclusion zone, it is alleged that one Organiser was told words to the effect of “We’re asking you not to go in the area…It’s dangerous for you to be in there. Don’t go in the area, it is unsafe, you’re unsupervised”.
The Organiser again visited the site on 23 April 2021 and again entered an exclusion zone where asphalt was being laid. It is alleged that similar to his previous visit; he again did not respond to repeated calls for him to leave the area and proceeded to walk unsafely around equipment and heavy vehicles.
It is alleged that when asked to leave the area, he used words to the effect of “I’m not going, you can ask all you want, but I’m not leaving”.
The maximum penalty that courts can impose for each contravention of the FWA is $66,600 for a body corporate (such as the union) and $13,320 for an individual.
In their recently published Annual Report 2020-21, the ABCC detailed securing $13,905,975 in penalties against trade unions and their representatives since 2 December 2016 ($1,520,600 subject to appeal or further decision).
For questions about safety, union right of entry, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to email@example.com
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.