Full Bench rejects appeal of CFMMEU to reinstate senior union official’s right of entry

Full Bench rejects appeal of CFMMEU to reinstate senior union official’s right of entry

A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has rejected an appeal by the CFMMEU to renew the right of entry permit of a senior Western Australian official of the union. The official joins a growing list of organisers of the union who have been refused right of entry permits on the basis that they have not been deemed `fit and proper’ persons to hold an entry permit under the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009.

WM has been a long-standing official of the CFMMEU within the Western Australian branch. In January 2017, he was elected as President of the Western Australian Divisional Branch of the CFMMEU, the highest elected position within the branch structure.

On 18 August 2021, Deputy President Melanie Binet refused to renew Mr M’s entry permit. The Deputy President noted that Mr M had been fined four times for his unsatisfactory conduct in the Perth Airport Case, the Mundaring Water Treatment Case, the Broad Airport Case and the Salini Case. The CFMMEU had also been fined in each case due to Mr M’s conduct.

In opposing the renewal application in the appeal, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) argued that both the WA branch and Mr M himself had displayed a lengthy history of contravening industrial laws.

As the Full Bench noted:

“Mr M obtained a conditional entry permit in 2018 largely because he persuaded the Commission, via his sworn evidence, that he had “learned his lesson” and was committed to compliance with the law in the future. Having obtained that entry permit on 25 May 2018, he then engaged in a “moderately serious” contravention of the BCIIP Act before seven months had passed. Beyond the contravention itself, which involved the organisation of unlawful industrial action and was relevant to Mr M’s general integrity and willingness to comply with the law … was the fact that the contravention was in breach of the commitment given to the Commission in the 2018 proceedings.

This was a matter which, in the current proceedings, cried out for an explanation from Mr M. However, the CFMMEU chose not to call Mr M to give evidence for this purpose, notwithstanding the Deputy President’s express invitation to do so, and as a result, the Deputy President was afforded no explanation or even any expression of remorse for what had occurred. Nor did Mr M renew his commitment to comply with the law in the future”.

In their summation of the earlier decision, the Full Bench noted, “The Deputy President’s conclusion, on the basis of these matters, that Mr M was not a fit and proper person to hold an entry permit was legally rational and reasonably available”.

The union’s appeal was rejected.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union-Construction and General Division, WA Divisional Branch [2021] FWC 3419

For questions about unions, 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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