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The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union
has been slapped with almost half a million dollars’ worth of fines by a
federal court judge after it was found to have breached the Fair Work Act by
co-ordinating a “targeted” industrial campaign against a major builder.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission
filed federal court proceedings against the CFMEU in March last year, alleging
the group conducted a “co-ordinated industrial campaign” against Kane Constructions after the building
company enforced right-of-entry laws on its sites.
In a strongly worded judgment handed down today,
Justice Christopher Jessup said the court had been forced to provide a firm
response to the union’s conduct, which involved a “cavalier disregard for the
protections” which the workplace act is supposed to deliver.
“Over the construction sites with which this
proceeding has been concerned, in no instance was there any suggestion of an
issue or grievance, specific to the site or the workers on it, that justified,
or even explained, the organisation of industrial action,” said Justice Jessup.
“Rather, the pattern tended to be that one of the
respondents would arrive at a site, presumably with some agenda external to the
interests of those working there, and disrupt the performance of normal work.
“Commonly, this was done without apology or the
slightest sense of obligation to the laws which regulate the conduct of
industrial relations in Australia. At times, the attitude of the respondents
could only be described as high−handed and arrogant. The inference is
irresistible that the industrial action which was organised by the respondents
had the explicit object of inflicting commercial harm on Kane.”
Ten CFMEU officials have also received individual
fines ranging between $6,400 to $22,400.
The union received eleven separate fines, totalling
The 2014 industrial action was conducted on April 2
and May 22, when the CFMEU is said to of co-ordinated simultaneous visits
across the Kane building sites, resulting in more than 100 workers walking off
The sites targeted covered almost half a billion
dollars’ worth of Victorian construction projects, including four hospitals,
Owen Dixon Chambers in the Melbourne CBD, an aged care facility in Templestowe,
an apartment block in Prahran, Simonds Stadium in Geelong and Geelong library.
The Australian, 11/4/2017
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