A key union in the Australian building industry and six of its representatives have been fined a total of $230,000 for what has been deemed to be illegal strike action on a major Melbourne road project.
On Monday, the Federal Court fined the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union a total of $155,000 after the union and its representatives admitted to nine breaches of section 43 of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 and five breaches of section 38 of the same Act regarding efforts to force then Lend Lease subsidiary Abigroup to employ particular members on the Peninsula Link road project connecting the EastLink toll road in Melbourne’s east and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Mount Martha in 2010.
The six individual representatives were ordered to pay a total of $75,000 between them.
The case concerned a series of actions which took place during the second half of 2010 regarding the Peninsula Link Project as well as the Southern Link Upgrade Project, where Abigroup teamed with Transurban and AECOM (formerly Maunsell) to add a fourth lane both ways over a five-kilometre stretch in Melbourne’s inner southeast.
In the first union action, the union and its representatives directed workers to block entrances to the Peninsula Link site on Cranbourne-Frankston Road and the Seaford Compound as well as Southern Link Upgrade (SLU) on Glenferrie Road on August 31.
Subsequently, workers were directed to strike on the SLU site on October 26 as well as several primary school sites on the following day (Tooradin, Mt Eliza North, Derinya, Dromana and Truganina South), and again two weeks later on November 11 at the Peninsula Link site on Cranbourne-Frankston Road as well as at Lyndhurst Primary, Truganina South Primary, Drouin South Primary, Aitken Creek Primary, Mt Eliza North Primary and Cranbourne East Primary.
In a statement, Fair Work Building and Construction says the tactics unnecessarily delayed publicly funded construction projects.
The decision follows a much larger case in which 117 workers were fined a total of $1.068 million over illegal activity in Perth in 2008.
Built by members of the Southern Way consortium, which along with Abigroup included UK-based Bilfinger Berger and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Peninsula Link opened earlier this year after a four-year construction period at a cost of around $759 million.
The road saves up to 40 minutes of travel time and completes what was previously a missing link in enabling motorists to travel from Melbourne’s CBD to Rosebud without any traffic lights or stoppages.
Finished in 2010, meanwhile, the Southern Link Upgrade took three years to build and cost around $117 million.