THE Federal Court has fined the CFMEU and one of its officials a combined $24,000 over the racial abuse of a site representative on a major Western Australian construction site in 2012.
Describing CFMEU delegate Bradley Upton’s behaviour as ‘disgraceful’, the Court found he made ‘obscene remarks’ to a site representative after being dissatisfied with the room that had been assigned for meetings with workers.
“That’s the AWU [Australian Workers Union] way; we don’t do things that way. We do things the f**king CFMEU way,” Mr Upton said after the site representative suggested he take his concerns to Fair Work Australia (now the Fair Work Commission).
After knowingly entering an out of bounds area on a second visit to the site, Mr Upton verbally abused another site representative.
“Is this s**thole acceptable to you? Is this s**thole good for you f**king Americans? This is not f**king America. You think you can treat us like s**t, you f**king Americans. Australian’s won’t stand for this. You f**king Americans can’t push us around like we’re pieces of s**t. We won’t put up with you f**king Americans here, not here.”
The Court praised the second site representative’s restraint and conduct in walking away from Mr Upton’s attempts to provoke a physical reaction.
“[The site representative’s] exercise of self-control was commendable and stands in stark relief against the lack of it displayed by Upton. I regard Upton’s conduct as deplorable particularly so for someone acting in his official capacity…I regard it as a serious contravention. It is the kind of contravention which could so easily have resulted in actual violence. The language used as well as being repeatedly obscene, had a particularly nasty racist overtone. This is a case which calls for strong deterrent penalty, both specific and general,” the Court said.
The Court said the CFMEU’s training for right of entry permit holders needed to be ‘bolstered’ and noted the union’s long history of unlawful conduct, which Mr Upton had continued, ‘calls for a significant component of specific deterrence’.
“There is a history over a number of years of contraventions of industrial laws by CFMEU officials for whom the CFMEU is responsible and which have involved those officials, variously, in using obscene and threatening language, making threats of assaults and in some cases involving scuffles and physical altercation,” the Court said.
The CFMEU was fined $20,000, while Mr Upton was fined $4,000.