CFMMEU and representatives fined for right of entry breaches on two projects
In separate proceedings, the Federal Circuit and Family Court have imposed significant fines amounting to $293,000 against the construction union giant, the CFMMEU, and eight of its officials, including the current Queensland State Secretary, Michael Ravbar, for right of entry beaches and subsequent inappropriate conduct at two Queensland construction sites.
In 2019, the courts found that union officials Kurt Pauls, Beau Seiffert, Te Aranui Albert, Blake Hynes, Luke Gibson, Matthew Parfitt and Royce Kupsch breached the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) by unlawfully entering a project site on the Bruce Highway at Caloundra. The Court found that both the union and Mr Paul had accessorial liability for the conduct of the union and its officials.
Union officials entered the project site on nine separate occasions between 8 March and 18 April 2018, each time refusing to show their federal right of entry permits issued pursuant to the FW Act. Instead, they informed the site managers that they were entering the site in accordance with their accreditation under section 81(3) of the State Work Health and Safety Act.
Inappropriate conduct engaged in by the officials included walking around the site without supervision and entering work areas leading to the stoppage of work.
Significantly, in delivering its judgement, the Federal Court ruled that union officials must both hold and show valid right of entry permits when visiting construction sites issued under the FW Act upon request for reasons of safety. The union and officials were fined a total amount of $179,000.
In a separate decision, the Federal Court has imposed penalties of $114,000 against three current and former officials of the union for acting improperly at the Bruce Highway, Caloundra project site.
The Court ruled that Michael Ravbar (current State Secretary), Te Aranui Albert and Blake Hynes breached the FW Act by hindering and/or obstructing workers at the site.
Conduct of the three included blocking a truck delivering concrete girders resulting in the cessation of that work activity.
Mr Hynes was separately found to have breached the FW Act for yelling in an aggressive manner towards a safety advisor at the site.
Again, the Court found that the union had accessorial liability for the actions of its officials.
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 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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.