NEW unlawful picketing provisions will be tested as the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) takes a case against the CFMMEU and three of its representatives to the Federal Court.

Highlighting its continual active prosecution of workplace law breaches, the nation’s construction watchdog alleges contraventions of the new unlawful picketing provisions for an alleged blockade of two Melbourne sites in May 2017.

The ABCC alleges that on 8 May 2017, CFMMEU representatives John Perkovic, Kane Pearson and Mario Raspudic blocked access to the NewCold1 and NewCold2 sites, preventing office staff, subcontractors and workers from entering or leaving the site.

In a statement of claim filed with the Federal Court, the ABCC alleges:

  • On 8 May 2017, at about 5.45am, Mr Perkovic and others blocked access to the NewCold1 site when they stood next to an SUV parked across the entry gate.
  • At about 7.20am, when a NewCold director was prevented from entering the site, he told Mr Perkovic he was hosting a visit from a “potential customer” at NewCold2. Mr Perkovic replied with words to the effect “You will need to talk to Kane [Pearson] at the other site [NewCold1]”.
  • At around this time at NewCold 2, Mr Pearson, Mr Raspudic and others stood next to an SUV parked across the driveway and restricted access to a number of concrete trucks, subcontractors, office staff and employees of a potential customer.
  • At about 7.35am a senior project manager at the NewCold1 site, had a conversation with Mr Perkovic to the effect:

Perkovic: Today is an RDO and as no work permit has been submitted or approved by the CFMEU works are not permitted on site today.

  • When the project manager told Mr Perkovic that he was trespassing and requested that he clear the gate area to permit access, Mr Perkovic denied the request.
  • Mr Perkovic and others then surrounded the project manager and an industrial manager. Mr Perkovic then said “P*ss off, we’re here, we’re staying.

The ABCC alleges the conduct in the case contravenes the unlawful picketing provision of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act). The maximum penalty for a breach of the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for bodies corporate and $42,000 for individuals.

This case highlights why it is crucial the ABCC remains in place to ensure building and construction industry participants’ compliance with Australia’s workplace laws.

As a consistent supporter of the ABCC since it was first recommended by the Cole Royal Commission in 2003, AMMA recently provided input into a review of the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act), reiterating industry’s support for the regulator’s retention.