The NSW branch of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union has been fined $200,000 over a stop-work action at a Glebe building site in 2018.
Both the organisation and union official Anthony Sloane were both hit with fines, with Justice Geoffrey Flick SC ruling that the CFMEU officials had broken the law over a pay dispute “in circumstances where it had no merit.”
The actions in question were at an apartment construction site in February of 2018, when Westform employees refused to work and downed tools over a disagreement with management. The disagreement was over one hours’ work ten days prior, which was lost due to wet weather.
Mr Sloane in his position as a union official entered the site with Brendan Holl, another union member, and explained to the site supervisor that “they should have been paid for the time” they were unable to work on the site due to bad weather.
Mr Sloane then made it clear that he wouldn’t be leaving the site, telling the Westform manager that “you can call the police, the ABCC or even God, but I will not be moving from this site until the payments I’ve requested have been paid.”
“I’m going to park myself here on the job and cause issues for Westform if you don’t fix this,” he said.
When Westform managers encouraged Mr Sloane to get the workers to return to tools, he said that “The boys aren’t going back to work… this has come from above my head.”
Senior union official Michael Greenfield then made a call to the site and explained to the Westform union delegate that the workers could resume tasks.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission launched legal action over the incident, and union officials admitted that they had conducted unlawful industrial action.
The actions of the union officials were described in court as having “deliberately exceeded his powers of entry as a union official.”
“Neither the CFMEU nor Mr Sloane has expressed any regret or remorse for having engaged in the conduct now in issue,” said Justice Flick.