An official of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union falsely claimed to be Steve Irwin on a New South Wales building site, according to the regulator for industrial relations in the building industry in Australia which is bringing court action against the official and one other from the Building Labourer’s Federation in Queensland as well as their respective employers over allegations of multiple breaches of the Fair Work Act.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Fair Work Building and Construction says it has launched proceedings against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Building Labourer’s Federation of Queensland (BLF) and the CFMEU QLD as well as two of their officials, Chad Anthony Bragdon (BLF) and Anthony Kong (CFMEU) in the Federal Court of Australia.
According to a statement of claim, Bragdon and Kong entered the site where a seven storey carpark was being built in the South Eastern Sydney suburb of Mascot on ostensible grounds of health and safety and proceeded immediately to an area where a concrete pour was in progress before telling workers that the site was to be shut down and they should stop work and evacuate the area – as a result of which some workers left and work was slowed down.
FWBC says though both men gave the impression they were authorised to be on site, neither held a New South Wales health and safety permit.
When asked three times to show their permit, neither produced any – both allegedly telling the site occupier they would provide them later.
Moreover, when asked to identify himself, FWBC says Kong claimed to be ‘Steve Irwin’.
“While on site, Mr Kong was asked to identify himself” FWBC’s statement of claim reads. “We allege he falsely identified himself as ‘Steve Irwin’”.
FWBC says the two officials each committed five breaches of the Fair Work Act by hindering and obstruction work, failing to product permits and falsely giving the impression they were authorised to stop work, whilst the respective employers were also liable for their actions and Hong himself committed a sixth breach by falsely identifying himself.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the case highlights a worrying trend among union officials to use health and safety as a means to disrupt construction sites.
“Here we have another case of union officials allegedly using work health and safety to enter a site and then allegedly disrupting work” Hadgkiss said.
A directions hearing is scheduled for 25 March.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act in this matter is $10,200 for individuals and $51,000 for a union.