CFMMEU and organiser fined for attempting to coerce contractor and subcontractor

CFMMEU and organiser fined for attempting to coerce contractor and subcontractor

The Federal Court and Family Court of Australia have imposed fines against the CFMMEU and an organiser for threatening and inciting a contractor to sign a union enterprise agreement and encouraging the contractor to terminate a labour-hire contract as the company did not have a CFMMEU agreement.

The incidents occurred at the Coffs Harbour Hospital Expansion project during January and March 2019, involving CFMMEU organiser Dean Rielly. Mr Rielly was the union organiser responsible for the region from Grafton to Taree in New South Wales.

Mr Rielly was found to have contravened several provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, including threatening to organise or take action against CPB Contractors Pty Ltd (CPB) with an intent to coerce CPB to ensure their employees working at its precast yard in North Boambee Valley became members of the CFMMEU, and that all of the labour-hire workers at the yard be covered by a CFMMEU enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

Further, Mr Reilly threatened to organise or take action against CPB with an intent to coerce CPB to employ members of the CFMMEU and engage a particular independent contractor, being either the “Lack Group” or a labour-hire business whose workers were covered by a CFMMEU EBA. He also was found to have engaged in encouraging or inciting CPB to take action against Telum Precast (Qld) Pty Ltd (Telum) because the company had not advanced the claims and interests of the CFMMEU by making a CFMMEU EBA or employing members of the CFMMEU.

The Court found that Mr Rielly made threats on several occasions that the Union could block supplies arriving at the site if their various demands were not met.

In his decision, Judge Lewis Driver described the behaviour of Reilly as follows,

“The campaign by Mr Rielly was premeditated and proceeded over a period of time from when he first heard about CPB obtaining the contract for the precast work, increasing in frequency and pressure at the very time CPB was negotiating a new EBA with its employees in March 2019, a form of “industrial stalking” of employers considered “non-compliant” with the Union’s industrial objectives”.

In describing the CFMMEU, Judge Driver noted,

the Union’s prior record of contraventions has been described as “dismal” and “outrageous”, and the Union has been described as a recidivist offender…The Union has provided no evidence that, as a consequence of any of these contraventions, or the burgeoning number of them that suggests it has a serious problem in both it and its officials complying with the law, it has instituted any corrective training or reform of its recruiting or employment procedures to better ensure compliance with industrial legislation or its obligations under such legislation. Its ongoing conduct is institutionalised”. 

Judge Driver imposed fines of $10,000 against Mr Rielly and $80,000 against the Union.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Rielly (No 3) [2022] FedCFamC2G 1 (28 January 2022)

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 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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