A major Queensland construction company is facing court action after it allegedly refused to work with a crane company which had not signed a “bona-fide EBA” with the manager at the construction company advising “it would be advisable for you to get a union EBA and we can re-engage you”.

ADCO constructions allegedly broke the law by refusing to engage the crane company after ADCO signed an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU. Prior to this, ADCO Constructions regularly used the crane company on their sites.

During a meeting at ADCO’s head office, ADCO QLD manager allegedly told the director of the crane company that ADCO had signed a “union EBA” and could therefore only utilise companies with “union” or “bona-fide” EBAs. He suggested that the crane company would need to sign a “union EBA” to continue working for ADCO.

One morning at a site in Robina, an ADCO foreman allegedly told a crane operator “The unions are here, close down the crane and just go have lunch or a smoko break”. Following this the crane operator was advised that his company would no longer be used.

In a conversation with the director of the crane company, the site manager allegedly confirmed that there had been no safety breaches on the site but that he should take his crane home because “we [the site] have been instructed by the office to use another company,” and it was out of his hands.

At a second site in Benowa, when the director of the crane company asked the site manager about the arrangements for crane services on the project, he was allegedly told that another crane company had instead been booked. When the director asked if it was a union site, the site manager replied “Yes, the union will be watching what goes on here very closely”.

FWBC alleges that two days before the crane company was due to start working on a third ADCO project, the site manager telephoned the director of the crane company and cancelled the job, advising that this was due to a meeting he had had with a union delegate the day before who told him that if the union saw the company’s cranes on site they would shut the project down.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said it would not have been possible to get this case before the courts without the agency’s compulsory examination powers. “Compulsory examination powers were critical to investigating this matter to find out the truth so that it could be put before the court,” Mr Hadgkiss said. “Furthermore, this is a yet another example that companies who break the law are in FWBC’s sights.”

The maximum penalties available to the Court in this case are $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a company per breach.