THE Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has been ordered to pay $60,000 in fines and costs after stopping a Bendigo company performing work because it failed to enter an agreement with the union.
The Federal Court judgement relates to an issue dating back to 2008, when the regional construction employer entered into a $100,000 contract with a head contractor to perform work on an Epsom-based shopping centre.
Prior to the work starting, the CFMEU phoned a manager within the company, and said work could not start on site unless there was an enterprise agreement with the union and all of its employees were members of the CFMEU.
The CFMEU representative threatened to stop the company from commencing work on the site unless these conditions were met.
As a result of the threat, the company contacted the head contractor and advised it had “no choice but to withdraw [its] quotation” for works on the site. The initial application by a Fair Work Building Industry Inspector was dismissed, but an appeal resulted in mediation where it was agreed only one alleged contravention would be pursued.
The parties filed an agreed statement of facts and agreed proposed orders compromising of a monetary penalty of $20,000 and payment of the applicant costs of $42,500.
Justice Tracey’s judgement provided that the alleged contravention had occurred and also had reference to the CFMEU’s lack of contrition, lack of corrective action and also the unions “deplorable record of contraventions of the BCII Act and similar legislation”.
Justice Tracey said there was a need for any penalty to act as a deterrent to the CFMEU.