CFMEU/Breakaway Group EBA – coercive shop steward tactics

CFMEU/Breakaway Group EBA – coercive shop steward tactics


Members are advised that a number of CFMEU shop stewards are attempting to stop contractors from working on some ‘union-friendly’ sites if they haven’t provided employees with a commitment to sign onto the CFMEU/Breakaway Group EBA. The latest tactic involves trying to legitimise this unlawful action by claiming that the contractor is in breach of their EBA obligations. Members are reminded that where a dispute arises over whether a breach has occurred, the extant CFMEU Industry EBA 2011-2015 clearly provides that, “work shall continue without interruption from industrial stoppages, bans and/or limitations” whilst the dispute resolution procedure is being followed. Subcontractors faced with such conduct from a CFMEU shop steward are encouraged to immediately bring it to the attention of site management, and direct their employees to continue working.


Members also continue to be reminded that under the Fair Work Act 2009, it is unlawful for a head contractor to discriminate against a subcontractor for having (or proposing to have), or not having (or proposing not to have), a particular EBA. It is also unlawful for a person to attempt to take any action against another person with the intent to coerce that person, or a third party, into engaging, or not engaging, a particular subcontractor. FWBC has provided an E-Alert on this issue and is currently investigating related conduct on a number of projects.  Master Builders reminds members that employers (e.g. a principal contractor) may be held vicariously liable for the conduct of their employees (e.g. a shop steward).


The CFMEU shop steward action appears to be in response to the limited take up of the CFMEU/Breakaway Group EBA – a deal which in return for an unsustainable 15 per cent wage increase during its two-year nominal term, delivers no meaningful productivity improvements and the promise of being excluded from future federally funded work should the proposed Building Code 2014 commence operation.


Master Builders reminds members holding the extant Industry EBA 2011-2015 (and who entered into it prior to 24 April 2014) that they remain compliant with both the current Building Code 2013 and the proposed Building Code 2014. Whilst such members are under no obligation to pass on any wage increase from 1 July 2016, they are free to choose to pass on a pay increase should they wish – provided that this is a decision they make voluntarily, and independently of any third party.


Master Builders encourages members seeking further information to contact the IR Department on (03) 9411 4560 and/or the FWBC on 1800 003 338.


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