ABCC’s last bite legal action against CFMMEU in Perth

ABCC’s last bite legal action against CFMMEU in Perth

In what may prove to be one of its last prosecutions, the building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has commenced legal action against union giant the CFMMEU and two of its officials, relating to alleged offensive behaviour during the construction of Perth’s Her Majesty’s Theatre in July of this year.

The ABCC is alleging in its statement of claim before the Federal Court that a union official, Stephen Parker, used threatening words to a sub-contract supervisor regarding taking up union membership. In approaching the supervisor on 19 July 2022, the ABCC is alleging Mr Parker said to him that he would “f**k you up” and “f**k up the job” if the subcontractor’s employees did not join the union.

It is further alleged that when the supervisor replied, he said, “You can’t do this; you can’t threaten anyone’. Mr Parker’s fellow union colleague Peter Joshua replied, “it is what it is”.

The ABCC further alleges that a second incident occurred involving both union officials several weeks later.

The allegation is that on 2 August 2022, Mr Parker said to the same supervisor, “[name] you are not very smart … We know you spoke to the ABCC. You know they will be abolished very soon. You have just made yourself a target”. The ABCC is claiming Mr Joshua was present when the alleged words were spoken.

The ABCC is alleging that by the behaviour displayed on the site, both Mr Parker and Mr Joshua have contravened sections 340 and 346 of the Fair Work Act 2009.

The maximum penalties that can be imposed if the contraventions are proven are $66,600 for the union and $13,320 for each official.

Meanwhile, the Federal government has indicated that it will seek amendments to the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill following consultation with a variety of unions, employer groups, and independent Senators.

On Monday, 7 November 2022, the Minister for Workplace Relations, Tony Burke, agreed to create a new body to oversee the particular adversarial nature of the construction industry to succeed the ABCC, largely in a bid to gain support for the proposed legislation from independent senators Jacqui Lambie and David Pocock.

It is understood that the government may be prepared to make further concessions to ensure the bill is placed before Parliament before the annual festive close-down in December.

CFMMEU officials allegedly threatened Perth construction worker unless he and colleagues joined union | ABCC

Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill amendments | Ministers’ Media Centre

For questions about union right of entry, site visits, enterprise agreements, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 925 529 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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