8 March 2019

“A series of recent cases calling out yet more instances of building union bullying shows why the ABCC is crucial to upholding the rule of law on building sites,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia said. 

“In a decision handed down yesterday, the CFMMEU and an official fined $55,080 after they were caught stopping a landscaper being allowed to work on a Toowoomba building site, unless he joined the union,” she said.

“The Court heard evidence that the CFMMEU had asked workers if they were members. The landscaper, who was only meant to be on site for a few days, answer ‘no’ before saying ‘isn’t that illegal?’ The response was ‘if you want to work here then you have to be part of the union’,” Denita Wawn said.

The Court found that CFMMEU conduct amounted, ‘effectively, and practically’, to coercion saying:

‘…the worker would effectively be working to pay the union its dues rather than working for his own monetary gain. After paying the union fee, the worker would have had nothing to show for his having provided his labour.’, and that ‘… the conduct on the part of, when told by the worker that he would be working for nothing if he signed both forms [union membership and payroll deduction forms], was one of indifference to the plight of the worker.

“This latest penalty comes on the back of further instances of CFMMEU bullying and intimidation which came to light this week,” she said.

In one instance, senior union officials are alleged to have engaged in coercion, adverse action and unlawful industrial action on a Broadbeach site in October 2017. The allegations against the CFMMEU include abuse and threats to made to a health and safety advisor, resulting in an invitation to ‘come out on the street and sort it out’.

“These cases are exactly why we need the ABCC and without them there would be no one to protect workers and the community from bullying and intimidation,” Denita Wawn said.

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