New allegations have emerged of the CFMMEU bullying small building businesses to sign up to union deals. Sam McGregor gives us the lowdown
The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)) has commenced Federal court action against the CFMMEU and three of its officials alleging they targeted a Newcastle crane company because they didn’t have a union deal.
The ABCC has alleged in court documents that three union officials organised and took part in illegal pickets, contravened Right of Entry provisions of the Fair Work Act and engaged in coercive conduct. The allegations span three Newcastle building sites, including two different school campuses.
The allegations against the CFMMEU and officials include:
- Blocking access to three different sites, across 3 separate days, by conducting illegal site pickets whilst demanding a crane contractor be removed from the sites.
- Conducting illegal site pickets, carried out by workers wearing CFMMEU branded clothing, who also blockaded private access driveways and interrupted traffic, including through use of vehicles to blockade the road.
- Breaching safety and Right of Entry laws, when two of the three union officials entered a construction site without notice or warning, approached and operating crane, and when approached by a site foreman and asked to undergo a site induction and sign a visitors register, stated ‘we don’t have to do sh*t, we’ve told you this before, we don’t sign sh*t. We’ve been inducted, our permit is our induction’’. The officials then refused to move from the crane, even when allegations made by the officials relating to the safety of the crane operation were allayed.
The case is the third the ABCC has filed in recent months involving allegations the union has been targeting New South Wales crane companies in order to coerce them to sign onto union wage deals. While yet to be proven, it shows that lawlessness on construction sites – including abuse of safety provisions and right of entry powers – is pervasive by construction unions who continue to believe, and function as if, they are above the law.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $63,000 for the union, and $12,600 for the individual official – penalties which, without passage of the Ensuring Integrity Legislation, have been shown to have minimal, if any, deterrent on future unlawful conduct by the CFMMEU.