Fair Work Building & Construction has launched Federal Circuit Court proceedings against the CFMEU and one of its officials after he allegedly disrupted two major concrete pours, causing significant financial loss to the head contractor.
FWBC is alleging that CFMEU official Michael Myles disrupted work on the $60 million project at the Queensland University of Technology, on four separate occasions, before returning to the site a fifth time to direct workers to down tools after his demands to stand down the site manager were not met. He also wanted site management to disregard right of entry laws, for an extra labourer to be employed and for CFMEU flags to be flown from the site’s cranes. FWBC has also filed proceedings against 40 workers as a result of the alleged strike. Two of the workers are CFMEU delegates.
FWBC is alleging that Mr Myles held eight separate meetings with the workers over five days, with the meetings lasting for up to two-and-a-half hours. As a result of these meetings, two major concrete pours which were scheduled to take place could not proceed.
When asked whether he held any imminent safety risks or safety concerns and why he was on site, Mr Myles allegedly told the site manager “No, I’m just here to meet with the workers”. The project manager told Mr Myles he was trespassing. When police arrived, Mr Myles had moved to an area off site near the boundary fence. Police issued him with a move on order.
After disrupting the site for a third day, Mr Myles allegedly informed the site manager that “Things could return back to normal if my access to site is not restricted, that is, no 24 hour notice and no sign in so I can carry on discussions with the workers. You’ve also got a need for an extra labourer to clean sheds and you’ve got to have flags on the cranes”.
Unsatisfied with the response of “No way” he received from the project manager, Mr Myles allegedly organised a meeting in the carpark of the site and advised the site manager that “The meeting has decided that as a result of your actions in causing safety issues on site, you need to be stood down from the site for one day and that you need to be re-inducted. The men are going to sit out and not do any work until you comply with this requirement”.
The site manager advised that he was happy to compromise, offering to complete some audits. FWBC alleges that Mr Myles replied “No we have decided, we want you stood aside and re-inducted,” before the 40 workers downed their tools and walked off site.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that all people, regardless of whether they are an employer, worker or union official, are expected to comply with the law on construction sites.
FWBC is alleging the CFMEU and Mr Myles each contravened the Fair Work Act nine times, and that each of the workers contravened it once.
The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual, and $51,000 for a union per breach.
"We will defend it," CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar said. "It's a waste of taxpayers money."
The commission alleges Mr Myles disrupted two major concrete pours after holding eight separate meetings with workers over five days.
It says Mr Myles told the 40 workers to down their tools after his demands to stand down the site manager were not met.
"He also wanted site management to disregard right of entry laws, for an extra labourer to be employed and for CFMEU flags to be flown from the site's cranes," the commission said in a statement.