The Australian Building and Construction Commission has launched legal proceedings over union actions on the North Queensland Stadium construction project.
It alleges the CFMMEU and official Grant Harradine organised unlawful industrial action on four consecutive days in a bid to pressure subcontractor PJ Walsh to sign a union enterprise agreement at the Townsville site.
It is further alleged that 16 employees of the subcontractor engaged in unlawful industrial action from 11 till 14 March 2019.
CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar described the action as an outrageous abuse of legal power for political purposes.
The contractor involved had been performing concreting works at the Townsville stadium without holding the proper licences to conduct that work, yet the ABCC was seeking to bully and harass the union that brought such matters to light, he said.
“It is yet another example of this taxpayer-funded Star Chamber protecting bad bosses, while workers are hung out to dry,” Mr Ravbar said. “The CFMEU will be defending the action.”
In its statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Brisbane, the ABCC is alleging:
* At a meeting in October 2018, the subcontractor’s director refused to sign a CFMMEU template enterprise agreement that was presented to him by a CFMMEU official.
* In November 2018, four CFMMEU officials, including Mr Harradine, attended the site. Mr Harradine addressed a group of workers while holding a copy of the CFMMEU template enterprise agreement, saying words to the effect, “You need to make your bosses sign this.”
* On 11 March 2019, Mr Harradine entered the stadium site, refused to leave the site when asked to do so, and met with employees.
* During the meeting, the subcontractor’s director arrived and said words to the effect that he would not sign a CFMMEU enterprise agreement but was close to signing a Deed of Variation with the head contractor which would result in higher pay rates.
* Following this meeting, 11 employees of the subcontractor engaged in unlawful industrial action when they refused to commence work.
* On 12 March 2019, 15 employees of the subcontractor engaged in unlawful industrial action when they refused to work for their entire rostered shift.
*The subcontractor’s director said words to the effect the Deed of Variation was close to being signed off and he could then begin paying his employees an increased rate; and Mr Harradine said words to the effect he had people in State Parliament telling him different, and the employees would not be paid an increased rate until the subcontractor signed an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU;
* The subcontractor’s director said “that’s a lie” to which Mr Harradine replied “that’s fine, we’ll get another contractor to do the job”.
* On 13 and 14 March 2019, 14 employees of the subcontractor engaged in unlawful industrial action when they refused to perform work.
The ABCC alleges the conduct in this case contravenes the unlawful industrial action and coercion provisions in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act).
The maximum penalty per contravention under the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual.