Fair Work Building & Construction (FWBC) has launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), a CFMEU official, a building company and three of its employees for allegedly trying to coerce a subcontractor into signing an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.
It is alleged that Harris HMC Interiors (Vic) Pty Ltd engaged a subcontractor to perform demolition works for the redevelopment of the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre in Carlton, Victoria.
It is alleged that CFMEU official, Theo Theodorou, told the subcontractor that because it was “working in the city, it needed to obtain an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU”.
FWBC alleges the subcontractor met with Mr Theodorou and Shaun Reardon, Assistant Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the CFMEU, later that month, and was told: “You work in the city so you have to have an enterprise agreement and you should sign this now”.
It is further alleged that Harris Interiors told the subcontractor that if it did not sign the enterprise agreement with the CFMEU it would “get other employees that are covered by an enterprise agreement to finish the job” and charge the subcontractor for those costs.
FWBC alleges that Harris Interiors subsequently prevented the subcontractor’s employees from working at the site because it did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.
It is alleged the CFMEU, Mr Theodorou, Harris Interiors and several of its employees contravened the Fair Work Act by attempting to coerce and discriminate against the subcontractor because it did not have an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU.
FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said all participants in the building and construction industry needed to be aware of their workplace rights and obligations. ‘‘Being coerced to sign a union-endorsed agreement should be brought to this agency’s attention. Moreover, employers are not above the law and will be brought before the courts in cases of this nature. Victims, like this subcontractor, can be confident that FWBC will defend their rights.”
The maximum applicable penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act in this matter is $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 for a body corporate.