CFMMEU and Queensland representatives receive record fines for coercive conduct
Construction union giant the CFMMEU and three of its representatives have been the recipient of record Queensland fines imposed by the Federal Court amounting to $840,000. The fines were imposed after findings in the court that the union had engaged in coercive conduct by threatening or organising crane drivers to stop work on two separate construction projects in Brisbane in January 2021.
Federal Court Justice John Logan fined the union and three representatives, one organiser, and two site delegates for organising stoppages in an attempt to coerce a crane company and labour hire provider to transfer a delegate to the Cross River Rail project.
The union has been a constant critic of the state government and the head contractor of the Cross River Rail project for several years.
Evidence presented before the court in the ‘Titan Cranes case’ was that the labour hire provider would have issues at their other projects if a site delegate was not appointed as a health and safety representative (HSR) at the massive Cross River Rail project.
Over two days in January 2021, CFMMEU delegates at Probuild’s project at 443 Queen Street and Mirvac’s project at 80 Ann Street instructed crane workers to remain in the sheds.
They only returned to work after the issuing of an order by the Fair Work Commission.
Justice Logan was highly critical of the union in his determination, noting,
“The time enough was enough in relation to compliance with the law by this union, its immediate predecessor, and, for that matter, others in history, and its officials, has well and truly passed … in societies such as ours, which is governed by the rule of law, the adoption of unlawful means to achieve an end however worthy is corrupting of that worthy end”.
Justice Logan imposed penalties of $30,000 each.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) indicated that the fines imposed against the union are the highest ever achieved in Queensland by the building industry watchdog and the second highest in Australia.
It is still uncertain in what capacity the ABCC will continue to operate following the election of the Albanese Labour government.
In the recent federal election run-up, the ALP had pledged to abolish the watchdog if successfully elected to power.
For queries about unions, right of entry, safety matters, the ABCC, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to email@example.com
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