CFMEU fined for QLD action
The CFMEU and 19 officials have been fined $817,500 over building site shutdowns in Queensland.
The union engaged in an intimidation campaign that included blocking cars and calling workers “scabs, grubs and dogs” at two construction sites — the $777 million Enoggera Army Barracks and the $60 million QUT Kelvin Grove Campus – over the several months in 2013.
The CFMEU went to war with construction company John Holland Queensland after it refused to sign an enterprise agreement with the union.
The evidence presented at the Federal Court hearings included video footage of unionists physically blocking cars at the QUT site carrying insulting signs, one of which read; “This is why you are on $19 an hour u gutless grubs, scabs an (sic) dogs. Weak as piss”.
Another read; “No EBA, grubs, grubs, grubs, grubs, grubs, grubs, grubs”.
The stoush lasted for over 3 months, and only ended when John Holland caved in and signed the CFMEU’s enterprise agreement.
Justice Darryl Rangiah described the union’s conduct as “deliberate, flagrant and systematic”.
“Their breaches of the FWA [Fair Work Act] must be regarded as very serious and deserving of very significant penalties,” he said.
“The contraventions affected two major projects and impacted upon a large number of subcontractors and workers.
“The behaviour of the respondents who contravened s343 of the FWA was confronting, threatening and intimidatory.
“Their conduct involved a sustained and flagrant disregard for the workplace rights and freedom of association guaranteed under the FWA.”
The union had claimed its conduct was a “legitimate industrial objective” to achieve an enterprise agreement.
But Justice Rangiah said the Fair Work Act states: “particular conduct is made unlawful, regardless of whether or not the contravener is pursuing what it perceives as a legitimate industrial objective”.
“I do not accept that the fact that the respondents were pursuing an EA makes the offending less serious, particularly when it was designed to coerce JHQ into agreeing to the CFMEU's terms,” he said.
“The respondents have shown no contrition or remorse for their actions.”
The union was fined $551,900 for 26 breaches, while 19 union officials, including secretary Jade Ingham, received fines varying from $37,500 to $3,600, taking the total to $817,500.
The CFMEU is yet to announce whether it will pay the entire amount.