CFMMEU alleged to have prevented non-union painters onto worksite

CFMMEU alleged to have prevented non-union painters onto worksite

The CFMMEU is facing legal action by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) after allegations that one of their site delegates prevented two painters from undertaking work at the Brisbane South Secondary College project as they were not members of the union.

In addition to stopping the painters from working, the ABCC is alleging that the CFMMEU site delegate falsely told both workers that they had to be members of the union to work on the project.

The ABCC’s statement of claims alleges that:

  • The two painters arrived on site on 11 May 2021, both engaged by a subcontractor, to paint structural steel;

  • Both painters completed a mandatory site induction, after which they were met by the site delegate who asked them if they were members of the union (the CFMMEU);

  • Later on the same morning, the delegate approached one of the workers and said words to the effect of “Sorry, you can’t work here.  You have to be a member”.

  • Shortly thereafter, the site delegate approached both workers and said to them, “I’ll just call the office (referring to the union office).  All you have to do, is just go to our office in Brisbane, become members, and then you can go and do your work”.  One of the employees replied, “So is that the only issue?  If we just become members, we can do the work?” He replied, “yes, you can”.

The two workers claimed that they followed the site delegate’s instructions and drove to the union office.

After waiting forty-five minutes, they were told that someone would contact them.

They returned to the site and asked to speak to the site delegate.  He allegedly told them, “No, I don’t want to come down.  I don’t want to see you.  There’s nothing else to talk about”.  One of the painters replied, “Well, what do you want me to do?  What do you expect me to do?”.  The delegate replied, “Someone will contact you in regards to that, one of the organisers”.

The painter claims that he then said to the delegate, “I was there.  No one talked to me.  I was there 45 minutes, and now I’m back here.  I don’t have any contact details of anybody.  The only number I’ve got is your number, which I got from [the safety officer].  What do you want me to do?  What’s the next step?”

The site delegate replied, “Well, I talked to them.  Someone will call you”.

In evidence, the ABCC claimed that neither worker was contacted by the CFMMEU, and they were prevented from performing work on the project.

The ABCC is claiming that the alleged conduct of the delegate contravened sections 346, 348 and 349 of the Fair Work Act 2009.  (FW Act).

The maximum penalty for each contravention of the FW Act is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.

ABCC alleges painters prevented from working on Brisbane secondary school project unless they joined the CFMMEU

For questions about unions, membership, 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

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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