A Federal Court Judge has fined the Victorian CFMEU $48,750 and its official Joseph Myles $6,375 after being found to have caused a number of workers on the $140 million Mitcham and Rooks Road Rail Separation and Station Upgrade project not to perform their duties.
The CFMEU and Mr Myles were found to have committed “a serious contravention” when they caused a number of workers on the project site not to perform their duties on 22 August 2013. The Court found that Mr Myles had even threatened a subcontractor that if his employees presented for work, his company “won’t have a job in Melbourne”.
The unlawful action on the 22 August came after Mr Myles had previously attempted to coerce the head contractor to employ a CFMEU delegate on the project. Mr Myles had threatened that if the head contractor did not adhere to his requests to have a CFMEU representative employed on the project, there would be “war”, adding that it would be easy for him to mobilise “100 guys”.
In reviewing a schedule of the CFMEU’s previous contraventions, Justice Jessup found it painted “a depressing picture” which “bespeaks an organisational culture in which contraventions of the law have become normalised”.
Commenting on the decision, FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said:
“… the Court’s acknowledgment of the disregard for the law by the CFMEU was of continuous concern to him, given the agency currently has 63 various CFMEU state and territory officials before the courts for allegedly breaching workplace laws … The law says workers have the right to do their work and be free from coercion. It is intolerable that on Australian building sites workers are still being threatened.”
Master Builders strongly supports the efforts of the industry regulator, the FWBC, to enforce the rule of law in the industry – and continues to call upon the legislature to provide the regulator with powers and supporting legislation necessary for this critically important task.