Construction Workers Forced to Call Police on Aggressive Union

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2015
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Construction workers have accused union officials of being so aggressive on their Canberra site they called the police to remove them.

Micah Beaumont, site foreman for Milin Builders at the Brooklyn Apartments in Turner, told the royal commission into trade unions he felt he needed police help to prevent violence on his site after three CFMEU officials turned up in April this year.

He accused the officials of being aggressive and making things up to try to disrupt the site.

Mr Beaumont said the officials were “walking around trying to disrupt the concrete pumper” and filming the Gungahlin Concrete operator, who was getting upset.

“I was worried about it escalating to violence, so I called the police,” Mr Beaumont said.

Within 15 minutes of the officials arriving, Mr Beaumont had formed the opinion they were “trying to be bullies to shut us down”.

The CFMEU officials claimed they had a right to be on the site due to safety concerns but left after the police arrived.

Zvonimir Seselja, the brother of Liberal senator Zed Seselja and project director at Milin, called WorkSafe ACT officers who were told the company hadn’t signed a union-affiliated EBA.

According to a witness statement by project manager Tony Davey, the WorkSafe officer said about a third of the agency’s time was spent “dealing with EBA s***”.

WorkSafe ticked off most of the CFMEU’s safety concerns, however two concreters were found to have not been inducted into a specific safety policy and an improvement notice was issued.

CFMEU lawyer John Aguis questioned whether this constituted a serious safety breach, but Mr Davey said he didn’t believe it did.

Earlier, Dennis Milin, owner of Milin Builders, told the commission that CFMEU ACT secretary Dean Hall told him he’d be the laughing stock of the union movement in Canberra if there was no agreement in place covering a Woden development.

Mr Hall told Mr Milin if his company didn’t sign up there would be “all sorts of authorities and officials visiting to check you over”, Mr Milin’s notes of the August 2014 conversation show.

Mr Milin asked Mr Hall if he was threatening the company.

“Of course not, we don’t do that, we don’t threaten anyone,” he says Mr Hall replied.

The union official went on to say he was worried for the company getting negative publicity along the lines of “site picketed” or “bad unsafe builder”.

At the time, Milin Builders had been in protracted negotiations with the CFMEU on an enterprise agreement that covered all its work, instead of the site-specific agreements.

But after the union failed to register the agreement due to error, Mr Milin refused to complete another one.

The hearings continues….

 

By Elise Scott
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