CFMEU official Scott Vink padlocked an onsite lunch shed, declaring that “sheds were won by unionists for unionists” and threw non-union workers’ food on the ground, FWBC is alleging in the Federal Circuit Court.
The CFMEU official claimed he was entering the Pacific Fair redevelopment project site in Queensland to investigate safety concerns. However, he failed to investigate any such concerns, instead heading for the smoko shed which he allegedly insisted no non-union members could access.
FWBC alleges Mr Vink removed workers’ belongings from the shed including lunches being stored in the refrigerator, before throwing the food on the ground outside. When asked by a Health & Safety Manager if the workers could at least leave their lunches in the fridge, Mr Vink allegedly replied “No. Maybe you can put Neil’s stuff in the fridge. Neil’s a union member and that’s how fridges came about on sites mate.”
As property was being returned to the shed, Mr Vink allegedly told the Manager to “get out of the f***en shed” a number of times. Mr Vink allegedly took the food that had been returned to the shed, including two cartons of milk, and threw them outside onto the pile of workers’ possessions. Mr Vink then allegedly tried to tip the Manager out of the chair he was sitting in and said to him: “Get out of the shed you scab” and “You’re a f***ken piece of sh*t mate”.
Mr Vink briefly left the shed and the Manager attempted to return cold food items to the fridge. Mr Vink returned to the shed and allegedly yelled at the Manager: “What did I just f***en say mate? Get this sh*t out of the f***en shed. Don’t make it any worse.”
Mr Vink allegedly said “It’s a pretty easy f***en fix boys. Anyone on this job’s in the f***en union. Those sheds were won by f***en unionists? Where do you think people used to sit; under a f***en tree. You can go p**s in a bucket for all I care,” before padlocking the shed shut, preventing all access.
As a result of Mr Vink’s alleged conduct, the Manager had to arrange for the workers to eat lunch at a nearby shopping centre.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said reports of union officials using safety concerns as a ruse to get on site for other purposes was alarming. “Union officials who hold a right of entry permit are in a privileged position. All we ask is that they obey the law,” Mr Hadgkiss said.
FWBC is alleging Mr Vink, the CFMEU and the CFMEU Queensland broke the law on four occasions each when Mr Vink intentionally obstructed workers by refusing to allow them entry to the site shed. The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case per breach are $10,200 for an individual, and $51,000 for a union.
A directions hearing is scheduled for 9 March 2015 in the Federal Circuit Court.