CFMMEU and official fined for abusing safety functions

Tuesday, 24 September, 2019

CFMMEU and official fined for abusing safety functions

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and its former official have been fined $34,500 after it was found the official intentionally hindered and obstructed works being carried out at the Geelong Grammar School in 2014. According to Master Builders Australia (MBA), the Federal Court found that the official had entered the construction site without providing appropriate notice — contrary to the Fair Work Act 2009 — and upon entering the site, refused to show site officials his entry permit or leave when requested. MBA said the CFMMEU official, instead, stated he would not leave the site until it was shut down due to “fabricated safety concerns” and because he and the CFMMEU did not approve of the subcontractors working on the site.

His Honour, Justice Mortimer, who ran the proceedings, said during judgment that the CFMMEU official’s conduct was “confrontational, aggressive, and rude. [He] was bullying and overbearing, and deliberately so.” Mortimer added that the official was not a first time contravener and while his actions did not result in a significant financial loss for the subcontractors involved, it did result in some. As a result, the official was fined $4500.

Furthermore, after hearing of several legal breaches, Mortimer believed the CFMMEU’s conduct “can only indicate a continuing readiness to disregard and flout the industrial laws of this country, when it suits the CFMMEU and its officials to do so”. While he could not penalise the union for past contraventions, Mortimer fined the CFMMEU $30,000 in the hopes that it would “take some notice of the Court’s view of its behaviour” and see the “fruitlessness of its funds, including its members’ funds, being expended on the payment of pecuniary penalties”.

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