CFMEU officials are facing court for alleged coercion after they allegedly stopped work on a Queensland construction site for six days because the head contractor refused to remove a Safety Manager the CFMEU did not like.
The CFMEU allegedly unlawfully organised for up to 100 workers to withdraw their labour on the $60 million Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Precinct Project at Kelvin Grove, Queensland. This was allegedly also in breach of a Fair Work Commission order.
The CFMEU and its officials, Michael Myles, Kevin Griffin and CFMEU site delegates Ryan Whakaruru and Duncan McAllister, allegedly broke the law 78 times at the site.
The CFMEU incorrectly believed the Safety Manager at the site had provided workers’ details to FWBC. The CFMEU representatives allegedly demanded the head contractor stand the Safety Manager down. “The boys have decided to sit this out until there is a resolution,” Mr Griffin allegedly told the Site Manager, referring to up to 100 workers who had withdrawn their labour.
When the head contractor refused to remove the man, Mr Myles allegedly said “You make it pretty easy for me. I’ll go ahead and see the boys and let them know. We offered you to keep him in the shed and we go back (to work) but you did not take that up.” Workers subsequently stopped work and left the site.
Mr Myles allegedly said it would be “business as usual in the morning” if someone other than the Safety Manager carried out site inductions.
Workers later returned to work, but according to Mr Griffin it was allegedly on the condition that workers would not talk to or acknowledge the Safety Manager and that all the Safety Manager could do was instruct workers to wear their safety gear.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that allegations of coercion were extremely serious. “All we ask is that union officials obey the law like everybody else on Australia’s building and construction sites.” Mr Hadgkiss said.
FWBC is alleging the CFMEU broke the law 39 times, Mr Whakaruru and Mr McAllister broke it 13 times each, Mr Myles 9 times and Mr Griffin 4 times.
The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case per breach are $10,200 for an individual, and $51,000 for a union.