The Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) has started proceedings against the union and three of its officers, alleging they organised unlawful industrial action across three sites and were involved in a picket at the head contractor’s office.
WA state secretary Michael Buchan, assistant state secretary Graham Pallot and union organiser Walter Molina are alleged to have organised unlawful industrial action on 10 December 2018 at sites that form part of the Forrestfield to Perth Airport Rail Project.
It is further alleged that 44 employees of the head contractor engaged in unlawful industrial action across the sites.
In its statement of claim filed in the Federal Court in Perth, the ABCC is alleging:
- On 6 December 2018, a number of CFMMEU officers, including Molina, met with employees of the head contractor to discuss the payment of redundancy pay at the conclusion of the project;
- On 10 December 2018, Molina attended the Forrestfield site, set up a table in the vehicle parking area with CFMMEU brochures and spoke to employees as they entered the site;
- Later that morning the head contractor’s section managers at each site addressed staff and advised them that the redundancy pay clause in their enterprise agreement was in line with National Employment Standards and that the company was considering the issues raised regarding redundancy pay;
- At around noon employees at each of the Forrestfield, Bayswater and Redcliffe Station sites walked off the job;
- In the case of the Forrestfield site, where Molina spoke to employees in the car park, a large number of employees claimed to have developed a stomach illness before they walked off the job;
- As a result of the head contractor’s employees walking off the job at the Redcliffe Station site, scaffold employees engaged by a subcontractor at the site were unable to work;
- At around 12.30pm Buchan, Pallot, Molina and 11 employees picketed the contractor’s head office where they parked vehicles at the carpark entrance, banged on the office windows and barricaded the front door.
The ABCC alleges the conduct in this case contravenes the unlawful industrial action provision in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act) and the adverse action and coercion provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act).
The maximum penalty per contravention of the BCIIP Act in this case is AU$210,000 for a body corporate and AU$42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty per contravention of the FW Act in this case is AU$63,000 for a body corporate and AU$12,600 for an individual.