The Federal Circuit Court has found the CFMEU took part in “unconscionable” conduct when it coerced a builder to go against its safety obligations through unlawful industrial action on a NSW building site. The issue arose as a result of the builder introducing a new policy on site requiring workers to wear long pants to guard against cuts, abrasions and skin cancer; and despite advice from inspectors from the relevant OHS regulator that the builder’s policy was a reasonable requirement.
In the reasons for judgment, Judge Sylvia Emmett found that the workers’ action was not based on a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to health and safety and that the CFMEU had not provided any evidence to suggest that the action was anything other than to prejudice the builder in relation to its building contract and force the builder to abandon its policy.
Judge Emmett found that the CFMEU officials’ conduct, in seeking to negate the builder’s choice to enforce its ‘Two Longs Safety Policy’, when it had a statutory duty in relation to the health and safety of its workers, was “nothing short of unconscionable”. She further found that the CFMEU and the CFMEU official had taken unlawful adverse action because the builder had exercised its workplace right to ensure compliance with its safety policy.
Sadly, this is just the latest case in point of the CFMEU’s continuing hypocrisy when it comes to safety, and illustrative of its continued willingness to (ab)use safety to further its industrial agenda. However, whether it be the current dishonest attempt to create safety-related hysteria surrounding the ABCC and Building Code 2016, or the ongoing efforts to demonise the safety standards of contractors for not having a union EBA – people are no longer fooled by the CFMEU charade.