Federal Court punishes CFMMEU and officials for behaviour at NSW care facility

Federal Court punishes CFMMEU and officials for behaviour at NSW care facility

The Federal Court has imposed significant financial penalties on the CFMMEU due to organisers from the Union contravening right of entry provisions in November 2018 during construction works at the Kiama Aged Care Centre, south of Sydney.

On 27 November 2018, former union official Gerasimos Danalis obstructed three concrete trucks resulting in the concrete being wasted and concrete works delayed. At one point, he approached a concrete pump and attempted to push the emergency stop on the pump.

Mr Danalis and a current union official, Anthony Dimitriou, entered the site the following day, refused to undertake a mandatory visitors’ induction, and entered the site unaccompanied, despite reasonable requests from the site manager to comply with site rules.

Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann imposed collected fines of $184,000 in the case, being $11,000 for Mr Danalis, $3,000 for Mr Dimitriou, and a fine of $170,000 against the Union.

Justice Katzmann noted that “I found that Danalis’s conduct exceeded the scope of his authority as a union official by attempting to interfere with the work being undertaken and the conduct of the business”.

With reference to his co-organiser, Justice Katzmann noted, “While Dimitriou has exhibited no insight and expressed no contrition, and did not cooperate with the Commissioner, this was an isolated event, and Dimitriou is a first “offender”.

In her determination, Justice Katzmann described the CFMMEU in the following terms,

The Union is a notorious repeat “offender”. It has an extensive history of contravening industrial laws. The Commissioner tendered a table which summarised the cases in which it had been found to have contravened industrial laws and the penalties imposed for the contraventions…Notably, before the events the subject of this proceeding in November 2018 the Union had been found to have contravened s 500 of the FW Act 118 times and s 503 seven times. Penalties were imposed in all these cases with apparently little, if any, deterrent effect…The Union adduced no evidence to show that it has any system in place to ensure compliance or prevent or reduce the risk of its officials or employees breaking the law. It has adduced no evidence to indicate that it has taken any corrective action. It appears to have no culture of compliance”. 

The penalties are required to be paid within 28 days of the decision dated 21 January 2022.

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (Kiama Aged Care Centre Case) (No 2) [2022] FCA 19 (21 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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