The Federal Court has ordered the CFMMEU and its official Joseph Myles to pay a total of $294,000 after Mr Myles threatened to blockade and organised industrial action at the Springvale Level Crossing site in Melbourne in 2013.
Mr Myles has been ordered to personally pay a penalty of $44,000 for his unlawful conduct, which included making a threat to prevent the head contractor, McConnell Dowell Constructors, from hiring a subcontractor.
He has 90 days to pay the $44,000 penalty – the second personal payment order made against Mr Myles and the largest personal payment order made by the Court in ABCC litigation.
It follows a landmark decision for effective deterrent measures handed down in June this year as the Full Federal Court of Australia ordered Mr Myles to personally pay his penalty for breaking the law, without seeking or receiving financial assistance from the union.
The decision saw Mr Myles made personally liable for a $19,500 penalty following his unlawful blockade of the Regional Rail Link project site in May 2013.
It has been reported the CFMMEU has traditionally paid its officials’ fines but the High Court ushered forth a new type of order this year that prevents the practice so that fines “have a sting” and officials know the union can’t “bale” them out.
AMMA welcomes the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) continuing with active investigation and prosecution of workplace law breaches.
In the latest of the CFMMEU’s recidivist law-breaking, the Federal Court found that in addition to organising unlawful industrial action and attempting to coerce the head contractor, Mr Myles contravened right of entry laws three times.
The Court found that in a meeting on 19 June 2013, Mr Myles threatened to take action against the head contractor if they engaged the subcontractor and said he was “on a mission to get Clifton Formwork”.
Mr Myles said there would be “trouble” if Clifton Formwork was engaged on the project. He added that “there will be pickets outside the gates if they’re on this job” and “don’t blame me that you weren’t warned”.
On 13 February 2014, Mr Myles entered the site and organised a work ban by arranging employees to abandon their shifts.
Later that day he breached right of entry laws when he refused to show his entry permit and then subsequently entered the site on two further occasions on 19 March 2014 and 1 April 2014 despite not having a valid right of entry permit.
In his judgment today Justice O’Callaghan noted the CFMMEU’s prior history and “its apparent willingness to contravene the FW Act in a serious way to impose its will.”
ABC Commissioner Stephen McBurney said it was significant the Court again ordered Mr Myles personally pay the penalty for his unlawful conduct.
“The penalties imposed by the Federal Court on both Mr Myles and the CFMMEU send a strong message that unlawful behavior will attract a penalty with a sting for both the union and the individual,” Mr McBurney said.
“This is the second personal payment order awarded since the landmark High Court ruling in February this year. The level of the fine is the highest awarded to date and reflects the gravity of the offending.
“All building industry participants should now be on notice that personal payment orders will provide the requisite measure of specific deterrence. This was not previously available when the tab was being picked up by the CFMMEU and there was no personal consequence for individual contraveners.
This case is another example of 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.
Further, AMMA continues to support the passage of the “Ensuring Integrity Bill“, which contains various measures seeking to lift the standards, behaviours and transparency of all registered organisations including trade unions and registered employer groups.
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