The CFMEU and five of its officials have been penalised a total of $152,600 by the Federal Court of Australia after admitting to conduct including a physical altercation at an Adelaide building site.
The Court found the officials contravened Right of Entry laws, on 19 and 20 March 2014, by acting in an improper manner and intentionally hindering and obstructing Hansen & Yuncken management on the $75 million CBus construction site on Flinders Street.
On 20 March, State Secretary of the CFMEU Aaron Cartledge was told by the site manager that he was not allowed on site because he had failed to give 24 hours’ notice. Mr Cartledge told the site supervisor “You have to do what you have to do and we are going to do what we want to do” and entered the site.
CFMEU organiser Brendan Pitt, who had travelled from Victoria to join his SA colleagues, said “You are making a big mistake for stopping our entry. There will be trouble.” Mr Pitt and CFMEU organiser Jim O’Connor then used physical force against the site supervisor to gain access to the site. After the physical altercation Mr Pitt said, “You’ve just made things a hell of a lot harder for you now.”
In a penalty decision handed down today in the Federal Court of Australia in Adelaide, Mansfield J said: “The CFMEU has a significant history of non-compliance with the provisions of industrial legislation...I have remarked upon the fact that each of the individual respondents’ conduct indicates that each (with the exception of Stephenson) simply did not care about complying with the entry provisions.”
Mr Luke Stephenson, a former CFMEU official, no longer works for the CFMEU SA branch.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said Right of Entry laws must be obeyed.
“People who do not respect the rule of law must expect there will be consequences,” Mr Hadgkiss said. “Senior officers of the CFMEU, such as Mr Pitt and Mr Cartledge, should be well aware of their obligations under the Fair Work Act. A Right of Entry permit is a privilege, not a licence to act above the law.”