The Victoria-Tasmania Branch of the CFMEU – Construction and General division will pay up to $9 million in damages and costs to Boral and has given an undertaking that it won’t renew its black ban on the company’s concrete supplies, under a settlement deal announced on 18 September.

The settlement deed provides that the union will pay $4m including GST in damages to Boral entities, plus costs (to be finalised in court) that according to the company will raise the total payment by up to a further $5 million.

Whilst the deal settles the company’s separate damages and contempt cases against the CFMEU, it has no bearing on the continuing ACCC secondary boycott action prosecution scheduled for trial in March 2016. Boral has reiterated that it will continue to cooperate with the ACCC – as well as with other investigations by law enforcement bodies, including FWBC and those responsible for investigating referrals made by the current Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Importantly as part of the deal, the CFMEU has entered what the company describes as “a rigorous, legally-binding regime of controls prohibiting interference with Boral’s business” for three years. If the union breaches the deal, it is bound to pay penalties of $50,000 to $200,000 on each occasion, with those amounts doubled if the CFMEU commits three breaches in a year.

Boral chief executive and managing director Mike Kane said the settlement deed meant the company “will now be protected against illegal interference in serving our customers”.

Then Employment Minister, Eric Abetz, welcomed the “record settlement” and said it confirmed that the union’s Victorian leadership team of John Setka and Shaun Reardon had “gravely let down” members by costing them more than $10 million in damages, court penalties and legal costs over the Grocon dispute.

Master Builders applauds Boral for its commitment to the rule of law by holding the CFMEU to account for its unlawful industrial misconduct. The settlement provides confirmation for cross-bench senators of the imperative of passing the Bills to restore the ABCC so as to protect the thousands of small businesses in the Victorian commercial construction industry without the resources to replicate Boral’s successful approach to overcoming the CFMEU’s unlawful tactics.

Master Builders reiterates its calls for the Senate to pass this necessary legislation, and also calls on Government to implement the recommendations of the Harper Review of Competition Policy that penalties for unions be brought into line with those imposed on companies for breaches of competition law such as secondary boycotts.

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