The CFMEU has been hit with a $60,000 fine for the use of its ‘No Ticket, No Start’ tactic. 

In a potentially landmark ruling, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) and one of its delegates have been fined over $60,000 after they were caught engaging in what the court deemed an “unconscionable” practice at Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter tower project.

Federal Court Justice Michael Wheelahan delivered a scathing indictment of the CFMEU delegate, Jason Roach, who he said used his position as a health and safety representative to unlawfully coerce a subcontractor into joining the union. 

Roach allegedly checked workers' union cards during site inductions and falsely informed the subcontractor that he had to be a union member to continue working.

The judge said serious fines were necessary to deter such “deliberate” and “unconscionable” actions, expressing concern that the behaviour blurred the line between legitimate safety checks and coercive practices, potentially undermining the crucial role of health and safety delegates.

This incident comes amid discussions about proposed legislative changes to increase protections and entitlements for workplace delegates under the Albanese government's industrial relations reform. 

Employer groups, including the Master Builders Association, warn that these changes may lead to even more aggressive behaviour by unions towards independent contractors and subcontractors.

CFMEU construction division secretary Zach Smith has defended the role of union delegates, claiming that they play a critical role in ensuring construction site safety. 

However, the court highlighted the lack of evidence from officials encouraging compliance with the law and suggested that the CFMEU's code of conduct needed revision to avoid similar ‘No Ticket, No Start’ practices.

The union was fined $55,000, nearly the maximum penalty, while the delegate, Jason Roach, faces a fine of $5040. 

This ruling follows a previous case in 2017 where the CFMEU and its delegate were fined $100,000 for blocking a worker's access to another Melbourne construction site due to non-membership. 

However, it stands in contrast to a recent decision that saw employer United Lifts fined $200,000 for firing two union delegates who had raised safety and entitlement concerns.