The CFMEU and a subcontractor have been fined over illegal picketing at an Adelaide construction site. 

Federal Court Justice Patrick O'Sullivan says the CFMEU received the $384,000 fine for unlawful picketing because it “has not taken heed of repeated penalties and judicial criticism”.

A group of up to 30 people, some carrying union flags and wearing CFMEU clothing, protested and blocked workers from entering the site in 2019.

At the time, Core-Form Construction manager Andrew Sneath said he was owed about $180,000 for work done on the site but Adelaide builder Joe Sommariva alleged the works were incomplete.

Mr Sneath said he was forced to sack 17 people to stay afloat.

Protesters allegedly shouted “grubby-grub-grub” and “pay your bills”, harassed a female employee and told a lawyer working with Mr Sommariva to “sell your Porsche”. 

Justice O'Sullivan found the picketing was premeditated, and became unlawful when the group stopped a painter from driving into the site and delivering supplies. 

The CFMEU, its state secretary Andrew Sutherland, Core-Form and Mr Sneath admitted to organising the unlawful picketing.

“This offending is both another example and a continuation of the union's appalling behaviour (whether in this form or in its pre-2018 amalgamation with The Maritime Union of Australia),” Justice O'Sullivan wrote.

“I consider the union's record of prior contraventions is a matter going to both the objective seriousness of its contravening conduct and is a factor indicating an ongoing need for specific deterrence.

“This is the fifth time Mr Sutherland has engaged in behaviour which contravenes industrial legislation.”

Justice O'Sullivan set a penalty of $189,000 for the union and $38,000 for Mr Sutherland, and directed Core-Form and Mr Sneath to pay $132,000 and $25,000 respectively.

Australian building and construction commissioner Stephen McBurney said the picketers should have sought advice and assistance from the commission.

“Instead, they resorted to an unlawful picket, which the judge described as premeditated,” Mr McBurney said.