ABCC pursues legal action against CFMMEU for project disruption on Victorian freeway project
In its latest legal stoush, the building industry watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has commenced legal proceedings against the CFMMEU and three of its officials, alleging the union caused disruptions to work being carried out at the Mordialloc Freeway project on Victoria’s Mornington peninsula in 2020.
Potentially the most significant allegation is that one of the three officials physically struck a project health and safety manager with his fist, resulting in the manager losing his balance. Following this incident, police were called to the site.
The ABCC is alleging that three officials from the Victorian-Tasmania branch of the union abused their rights under Right of Entry laws on several occasions during November and December 2020.
Amongst a raft of allegations, the ABCC is claiming:
On 18 November 2020, the officials directed 15 workers not to return to work;
The officials verbally abused the health and safety officer on the project;
On 19 November 2020, a union official entered an exclusion zone without authorisation. Despite several requests to leave the area, he refused to do so, which resulted in a concrete pour being abandoned;
On 2 December 2020, two union officials refused to leave the edge of an excavation site when requested;
On the same morning, the ABCC is alleging a union official struck a health and safety manager with his fist, causing him to lose balance;
Later that afternoon, two union officials prevented three concrete trucks from entering the site, resulting in the cancellation of a concrete pour and the disposal of the concrete.
The maximum penalties that the court can impose for contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $66,600 for a body corporate (such as the CFMMEU) and $13,320 for an individual (in this case, the organisers).
In its recently published Annual Report 2020-21, the ABCC reported that it secured fines against the union exceeding $3m for the financial year ending 30 June 2021.
For questions about unions, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.