17 September 2019

The Federal Court has handed down penalties that total $34,500 against the CFMMEU and a former official after it found the official intentionally hindered and obstructed works being carried out at the Geelong Grammar School in 2014.

Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia, said “Another day, another case that shows why the Parliament must pass proposed Ensuring Integrity laws to ensure that everyone on building sites plays by the rules”.

“Findings like these against building unions are all too common by the Federal Court, and unfortunately they support what our members say to us every day – building unions do what they want, when they want,” she said.

The Court found that in December 2014 the official entered the Geelong Grammar construction site without providing appropriate notice (in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009), and upon entering the site, refused to show the site officials his entry permit or leave when he was requested. Instead, the official stated to the site manager that he would not leave until the site was shut down because of (fabricated) safety concerns, and because he was not happy that some subcontractors working on the job did not have a union agreement.

His Honour, Justice Mortimer, said: ‘I am not satisfied there was any real health and safety issue, despite [the official’s] references to people working in the dark’. 

He went on to say the official was: ‘confrontational, aggressive, and rude. [He] was bullying and overbearing, and deliberately so’.

Referring to the conduct of the CFMMEU at large, found that: ‘This level of contravening conduct can only indicate a continuing readiness to disregard and flout the industrial laws of this country, when it suits the CFMMEU and its officials to do so’.

“This fresh decision should be a timely reminder to the Government, as they consider and conduct a Senate Inquiry into the Ensuring Integrity Bill [Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Amendment (Ensuring Integrity Bill) 2019], that there is an ingrained culture of lawlessness in building unions that must be addressed”, Denita Wawn said.

“It has never been clearer that these unions see these fines as simply the cost of doing business - so until, and unless this legislation passes into law, Courts hands will be tied to hand down meaningful penalties to building unions,” Denita Wawn said.

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