Attempt to restrict worker’s access to site costs CFMMEU

Attempt to restrict worker’s access to site costs CFMMEU.png

Attempt to restrict worker’s access to site costs CFMMEU

The Federal Court has recently imposed significant fines on the CFMMEU and one of its officials for attempting to deny a worker access to a construction site on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. In doing so, the Union was found to have breached s 346 and 348 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FWA).

The facts of the matter, which were agreed to by the Union, are straightforward.

Norman Holdings was contracted to conduct shopfitting at a site at the Sunshine Plaza shopping centre complex at Maroochydore. Mr F, an officer and official of the CFMMEU, is also the union delegate for the site. Mr N was the sole director and an employee of Norman Holdings.

On 8 March 2019, Mr F requested a list from Mr N of who would be working on the weekend so that Mr F could “get approval” for them to work. After receiving the list, Mr F contacted Mr N about one worker who was not “coming up” as a member of the CFMMEU.

Mr F then attended the site where Mr N and the worker were working and, in two conversations, threatened he would not approve Mr N and the contractors to work on the Sunday until the worker joined the Union. As a result of the conversation, Mr N paid the sum of $625.20 to the Union to cover the worker’s membership fees. Mr N and the contractors scheduled to work were not prevented from working at the site on the Sunday.

At the hearing, all parties accepted that the conduct of Mr F was serious, characterised by the ABCC’s Counsel as “a repudiation of the principle of freedom of association, which is an object of the FW Act”. The conduct of Mr F, and through him the Union, was further described by Counsel as “aggressive, intimidatory (sic), loud, abusive. In effect, plain and pure industrial standover tactics”.

Video tendered to the Court showed that Mr F was loud and abusive during the conversations and used offensive language to describe the worker. He openly engaged in contravening conduct in front of others at the Sunshine Plaza site.

Justice Rangiah imposed a fine of $4000 on Mr F, a fine of $40,000 on the Union, and a further penalty being the repayment to Mr N of the worker’s union membership fees.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v F [2020] FCA 945 (9 July 2020)

For queries about dealing with unions 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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