West Australian CFMMEU official fails in bid to have Right of Entry permit extended

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West Australian CFMMEU official fails in bid to have Right of Entry permit extended

The Fair Work Commission has rejected the application by a senior union official in Western Australia to extend their right of entry permit, deeming that he did not satisfy the legislative requirements of being a `fit and proper person’. The official had a lengthy history of legislation contraventions and incurred significant individual fines for previous behaviours on building sites across the state.

The official, WM, had held honorary senior positions with the CFMMEU and been employed by the union as an Organiser for many years. His current permit expired on 25 May 2021, but he had been granted a temporary extension to his permit until 25 September 2021 while the matter was being heard.

Evidence presented to Deputy President Melanie Binet detailed an extensive list of previous contraventions by Mr M. He had incurred individual penalties amounting to $36,660 in relation to twelve breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 and previous Acts, as well as a single suspension of two months of a previous permit. Mr M’s current permit was granted subject to several conditions, including that he undertake training in relation to emotion management.

Some of his previous contraventions included making false and misleading statements to workers, coercing a contractor to undertake a safety inspection, taking action to coerce the payment of outstanding wages, as well as engaging in unlawful industrial action.

In determining the current application, the Deputy President noted,

“The question of whether a proposed permit holder is a fit and proper person to hold an entry permit will require consideration of the rights the holder of an entry permit may exercise, the limitations on and conditions attached to the exercise of those rights and the responsibilities that must be discharged and the exercise of those rights”.

The Deputy President acknowledged that Mr M had attended a one-hour information session on 19 February 2021, entitled `Right of Entry: A practical guide for union officials’, and that on occasion, he had been led by other union officials who have since departed the organisation.

However, she expressed particular concern with the further contraventions he engaged in with Salini Australia Pty Ltd employees at a Forrestfield worksite on 10 December 2018. Several officials, including Mr M, subsequently admitted that they had organised the meeting of employees outside the company’s head office, addressed the meeting, and encouraged the employees to engage in unlawful industrial action. Consequently, he received a fine of $20,000, penalties of $20,000 and $15,000 were imposed on the other officials, and a penalty of $125,000 was imposed on the CFMMEU.

Ultimately the Deputy President determined,

“I have considered the Permit Qualification Matters and have given weight to each. Taking into account the totality of the material and for the reasons already given, on this occasion, I am not satisfied that Mr M is a fit and proper person to hold an entry permit”.

Consequently, the application for a right of entry permit for Mr M was refused.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union Construction and General Division, WA Division Branch (RE2021/485) 18 August 2021

For questions about unions, right of entry permits, safety issues, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, or 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

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