CFMMEU official’s right of entry permit suspended while ABCC is to be wound back

CFMMEU official’s right of entry permit suspended while ABCC is to be wound back

In the same week that the Federal government has vowed to ‘wind back’ building industry watchdog, the ABCC, another official from a prominent construction union, has had his right of entry permit suspended by the Fair Work Commission.

Mr Luke Johannes Gibson is an official of the Construction, Forestry, Marine, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMMEU). Mr Gibson was issued with a right of entry permit pursuant to s 512 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act).

On 11 March 2022, Judge Vasta of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia imposed a pecuniary penalty of $10,000 on Mr Gibson for contraventions of s500 of the FW Act related to his conduct at the Marine Parade Apartments Project at Labrador on the Gold Coast on 30 April 2020.

Judge Vasta accepted evidence that Mr Gibson had entered exclusion zones without authorisation, stood behind concrete trucks, blocked the delivery of concrete to pumps, and engaged in abusive and intimidatory toward workers on the project. Mr Gibson accepted liability in the matter.

As noted in the matter of reviewing Mr Gibson’s suitability to maintain a right of entry permit, Deputy President Val Gostencnik noted, in reference to the FW Act,

“The object of Part 3-4 is to establish a framework for officials of organisations to enter premises that balances the right of organisations to represent their members in the workplace, hold discussions with potential members and investigate suspected contraventions of the Act, fair work instruments and State or Territory OHS laws; the right of employees and TCF workers to receive, at work, information and representation from officials of organisations; and the right of occupiers of premises and employers to go about their business without undue inconvenience”.

In determining whether revoking or suspending a permit would be harsh or unreasonable, the Deputy President noted that it involves an assessment of a range of factors, including the nature and gravity of the contravention, the impact suspension may have on the organisation, the members and the permit holder, whether training has been undertaken by the permit holder and general character evidence.

The Deputy President determined that Mr Gibson’s permit should be revoked for a period of five months. As he reasoned,

“… the period of suspension must be at least 3 months. Balanced against this is the nature of the contravening conduct, which was serious, deliberate, abusive, intimidatory, and involved a flagrant abuse of the power and a blatant flouting of the Project Site safety rules. There was no evidence of contrition before the Court, and none was offered here”.

Deputy President Gostencnik suspended Mr Gibson’s entry permit for a period of five months, commencing 25 July 2022 and ending on 24 December 2022.

In the matter of the Entry Permit of Mr Luke Johannes Gibson – [2022] FWC 1692 | Fair Work Commission

For queries about unions, right of entry, safety, 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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