CFMEU facing court action after construction workers walk off job

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CFMEU representatives are in hot water after being accused of discriminating against subcontractors without union enterprise bargaining agreements. Photo: Glenn HuntThree Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) representatives are facing nearly 50 breaches of the Fair Work Act after allegedly convincing workers to walk off six Queensland construction sites on August 19.
Nanjing Night Net

Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) claims CFMEU representatives Kurt Pauls, Justin Steele and Eddie Bland visited six sites operated by construction company Watpac.

FWBC said the representatives told workers Watpac had employed subcontractors who did not hold union enterprise bargaining agreements.

It is alleged the union delegates said “we don’t stand for this” before telling site officials “the boys are going home and they won’t be back until Monday”.

FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss said subcontractors cannot be discriminated against based on the workplace agreements they reach with their staff.

“The allegations raised in this case are very serious,” he said.

“Subcontractors are often small to medium family enterprises, the overwhelming pressure that is allegedly being applied to major contractors to force these family businesses out of the construction industry is of serious concern.”

The sites in question included the Ronald McDonald House project at South Brisbane, new velodrome construction for the 2018 Commonwealth Games at Chandler, and a Southpoint office tower site at South Bank.

It is also alleged Communications Electrical Plumbing Union (CEPU) representatives Robbie Gould and Mark Bateman were involved in the walk offs at the Pullman Ibis Hotel construction at Brisbane Airport.

The three CFMEU representatives combined face 46 breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009, while the CEPU delegates are accused of two breaches in total.

The case will be heard by Justice Rangiah in the Federal Court on November 11.

If the unions admit liability or are found guilty by the court, each representative faces penalties of up to $10,800 per breach.

CFMEU’s Pauls and Steele could be facing $205,000 each in penalties, having been accused of 19 breaches, but the maximum penalty is highly unlikely to be enforced even if the pair are found to be liable.

The CEPU was contacted regarding the allegations, but declined to comment. While the CFMEU and Watpac did not respond to calls.

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