The CFMEU and five of its officials have been penalised a total of $152,600 by the Federal Court of Australia after admitting to conduct including a physical altercation at an Adelaide building site.
The Court found the officials contravened right of entry laws on 19 and 20 March 2014, by acting in an improper manner and intentionally hindering and obstructing head contractor management on the construction site.
In handing down the penalties, Justice Mansfield found the conduct of senior officers of the CFMEU in relation to their attitude to right of entry requirements was “egregious”.
Justice Mansfield also found that none of the officials or the union had:
“expressed any contrition, or taken any formal corrective conduct, in relation to conduct of the type constituting their contraventions”.
He said the union’s barrister had acknowledged the contravening conduct was a “conscious decision of each of them”, and they knew it was a “flagrant” breach of the law.
In addition to the penalties, Justice Mansfield issued an injunction restraining the officials and other organisers from visiting the two head contractor sites unless lawfully exercising rights under the right of entry provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. Justice Mansfield said the injunction would enable the head contractor to complete the projects without having to address unlawful site entries by the officials or the union.
Commenting on the matter, FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss stated that:
“A right of entry permit is a privilege, not a licence to act above the law”.
No one is above the law. An organisation that continues to consciously and flagrantly breach the Fair Work Act 2009 should lose the privileges afforded to it under that legislation.
Master Builders strongly supports the FWBC in its efforts to hold the CFMEU to account for its unlawful actions and calls upon the cross-bench senators to pass the legislation necessary to reinstate the ABCC, in order to better equip the regulator in its pursuit of this objective.