Major Hospital Action Lands Construction Union $277k fine

The CFMEU and 7 of its officials have been slapped with a $277,000 fine after being found guilty of illegally blockading the work site of a major construction site.

The court handed down the fine after it found the union guilty over conduct involving illegal blockades at the Perth Children’s Hospital Project.

During one protest, 400 people blockaded the site’s main entrance, preventing a large concrete pour to take place as scheduled, involving 45 trucks.

The cause of the action was because the head contractor failed to agree to a demand for a “whole of site” enterprise bargaining agreement.

In another incident, the union organised a blockade, preventing around 200 workers from entering the site.

In a third incident, a CFMEU official attempted to prevent workers from entering the site by using physical restraint. See more at

Union fined $100k after Vic Mill Strikes

A court recently ruled that strikes at the Australian Paper Mill, were illegal, scoring a win for the Australian Building and Construction Commission against the unions.

Fines totaling $101,500 have been handed down by the federal court to the Construction Union CFMEU, Manufacturing Union AMWU, Workers Union AWU and 3 officials for a 3 day strike at the Mill’s de-inking project in March 2014.

The judge found the conduct of the union was not as “grossly lawless” as in previous cases but he stressed the importance that the union understand the importance of the boundaries of lawful conduct in the prosecution of disputes.


Days wasted due to Industrial Action

cashAccording to Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, the number of days lost to industrial action due to the construction union is evident of the fact that the construction watchdog needs to be reinstated.

Minister Cash says there is a need to bring back the Australian Building and Construction Commission in order to tackle rogue unions.

She highlighted the more than 100 representatives of the CFMEU who appeared before the courts in recent years, with more than $8.25 million in fines being imposed on the union and its officials.

She also reminds us that the rate of industrial action in the construction sector is 5 times higher than the average across all industries.


Michaelia Cash calls for return of Australian Building and Construction Commission


The Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has called for the reinstatement of the construction industry watchdog.

Earlier this month the minister called for the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission following the decision by the  Federal Court to once again impose penalties on the Construction Division of the CFMEU.

The construction union together with 8 of its senior officials were fined a total $151,000 for organising and carrying out a violent blocade on Melbourne streets in front of Grocon sites in 2012.


Builder Paid Union Official to Avoid Stop Work Orders


A builder in the ACT has told the Royal Commission into trade unions that he paid the wife of a CFMEU official $30,000 to avoid “getting on the wrong side” of the union and to avoid the union issuing stop work orders which would have cost the builder substantially.

The Royal Commission is still going on but more and more allegations of bribery and corruption are being heard. Read more about this builders story here.

CFMEU Accused of Intimidation in Canberra


The CFMEU has been accused of intimidation and harassment by members of Master Builders ACT.

In a survey of Master Builders members 71 per cent of respondents claimed they had been verbally intimidated by a representative of the union and 41% claimed they were physically intimidated.

The CFMEU has denied the allegations with ACT secretary Dean Hall accusing the MBA of ignoring the interests of honest companies and instead aligning itself with unlawful construction companies.

Click here to find out more.

CFMEU Concerned about Industries Failure to make Payments

An article recently ran on the website which is extremely relevant for workers and employers in the construction industry.

The construction union has expressed concern about the SA building industry’s inability or failure to make industry fund payments on time. The union says their concerns are fuelled by the fact that workers are the ones who suffer when employers fall behind on payments. Employers have been urged to remember that the money they pay is used for worker’s benefits such as redundancy payments etc.

Also perhaps an even more concerning consequence of this lack of payment by the industry is that it is an indication of the state of the industry. Although there has been a slight improvement in the industry which is expected to continue to grow over the next couple of years, at the moment things still seem to be slow and companies are battling to make certain payments.

Now there are fears that workers in South Australia may have to go without their payments because of the stoppage in cash flow. The CFMEU have urged building firms to make their payments and keep up to date with payments so that employees aren’t denied their rightful pay-outs especially from the smaller sub-contractors that are new to the industry.

Read what this article from reported on the incident:

4CFMEU secretary Aaron Cartledge said delays in payments were an indicator of how the industry was faring.

“The industry is contracting at the moment. There’s not as many jobs,” he said.

“What we’ve found [is] we had a huge influx of new subcontractors and companies come in through the stimulus package and the BER projects on schools.

“We’re seeing as the market tightens up that those companies are starting to have cash flow problems.”

Mr Cartledge said he feared workers would pay the price.

“The fear is that our members go without the money,” he said.

“I know people that will say they can line up and get some of their entitlements through the Government GEERS scheme but it’s not really fair that taxpayers have got to foot the bill either.

“But always at the end of the day when companies pass these sort of liabilities on, it’s our members that get caught.”

Read more:

The article goes on to explain that more than 300 workers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital construction site walked off the site on Tuesday last week because of the condition of toilets, which management had failed to fix despite complaints from workers. The toilets were apparently overflowing, amongst other malfunctions. The workers went back to work the following morning.

The problem was sorted out by management who had the toilets unblocked and plumbed, which alleviated the overflow problem. There are also talks of more cleaners being brought in to keep up with the demand of having so many workers on one site.


Thousands of Construction Workers Rally in the Name of Workplace Safety

Construction site safety in Melbourne has become a matter of contention recently which has pitted authorities and large construction firms against workers and unions, culminating in a massive rally in the Melbourne CBD.

Melbourne has some of the worst construction safety records in the country which is one of the reasons why thousands of Melbourne workers marched on Tuesday in solidarity for safety in the workplace.

According to an article on about 5-10 thousand workers rallied in the city centre in the name of safety.

The march which started outside the Trades Hall began with a minute of silence while workers faced the site in Swanston Street where 3 people died in a recent wall collapse on March 28th . The crowd spanned 10 city blocks and included over 5000 people.

Construction workers and their supporters marched through Melbourne’s CBD on Tuesday morning in a union-led rally to protest against what they believe is lax safety standards by building giant Grocon. The protestors then moved to the Grocon-managed Emporium building site also the site of a controversial union-led blockade last year.

The march has been condemned by Premier Denis Napthine who lashed out at the construction union as being “beneath contempt” for staging a rally at the site of last month’s CBD wall tragedy which he said would insult those who had lost their lives there.

The article on went on to explain:

CFMEU marchSpeaking this afternoon, Mr Napthine said the rally would cause pain for relatives of the wall collapse victims.”It is absolutely disgusting, it’s totally unacceptable and it’s an insult to people who lost their lives,” he said.

Workers held a minute’s silence in respect of the three people killed in the Swanston St wall collapse.

Picture: Alex Coppel

“They are using this terrible tragedy for union political purposes. Dr Napthine said Victoria has the safest workplaces in Australia.”We work hard to make sure all our workplaces are safe, and WorkSafe certainly do an excellent job,” he said.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian Secretary John Setka said the “minute’s silence” was a mark of respect for the young victims.

“If we were having a rally and we didn’t go there and have a minute’s silence we’d probably be accused of being insensitive.”Mr Setka attacked the Victorian Government, saying Mr Napthine had failed to announce a hardline stance against Grocon, who were responsible for the site where the March tragedy happened.

“We’re not going to let them sweep this under the carpet,” he said to thousands of construction industry workers outside WorkSafe’s headquarters.

Read more

Setka went on to condemn WorkSafe for being too quick to clean up the site after the accident and said the authority had a lot to answer for.

Mr Setka also claimed that crane workers on the Myer Emporium site were using their phones as torches following the death of crane driver Bill Ramsey earlier this year. His family members were also among the marchers in the rally.


White Card Update: Imported Material Tainted with Asbestos

The Construction Union is concerned about the incident involving asbestos being found in structures imported from Indonesia. The union has warned its members about the incident and issued an alert to educate workers.

Strangely the importation of asbestos products was banned in Australia almost a decade ago, so how this material could have slipped through the cracks is still unknown. The union is particularly concerned about the safety of electricians who may be exposed.

The asbestos was only discovered after a fire in one of the switch boards cause the asbestos sheeting to break, revealing the dangerous asbestos fibres within. reported on the case:

The CFMEU has advised its members that asbestos was found in pre-assembled structures imported from Indonesia for installation at local building sites.

The alert was issued after the union learnt that the Bechtel Construction Pty Ltd site on Curtis Island near Gladstone, Queensland, had imported sheds built from converted shipping containers.

They were assembled in Indonesia and supplied by the international company METITO Pty Ltd to house the Motor Control Centres for the Sewage Treatment Plant.

CFMEU QLD/NT safety officer Andrew Ramsay said tests had confirmed the internal linings of the sheds consisted of Asbestos Cement Sheeting/Tiles on the walls, floors and ceilings.

‘As we are all aware the importation of asbestos products has been banned through the Customs Act in Australia since 31 December 2003,’ he said.

‘The asbestos in these sheds came to light after a fire in one of the switch boards caused the sheeting to be broken and exposed the fibres to the workers involved.’

‘The Union is concerned that many electricians may also have been exposed during fit-out of these sheds before the alarm was raised.’


The report goes on to report on the latest Mesothelioma figures in Oz which are among the highest in the world. It is expected that up to 18,000 more Australians will die from mesothelioma by 2020. Mesothelioma is the cancer of the pleura. This disease grows and spreads quickly before the symptoms appear which makes early diagnosis and treatments harder.  The average survival time after diagnosis is only 6-18 months. A very small exposure to asbestos can be enough to trigger the cancer. The danger of this disease is that there may be a lag time of 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure before mesothelioma results.

The report goes on to cite the following statistics:

Mesothelioma report reveals diagnosis and death rates

Meanwhile, Safe Work Australia has published a statistical report containing data on the number of mesothelioma sufferers diagnosed between 1982 and 2008, as well as the number of deaths due to mesothelioma between 1997 and 2007.

The key findings are summarised below:

New cases diagnosed

 •In 2008 there were 661 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in Australia.

The number of new cases decreased from a previous peak of 652 new cases in 2003 to 591 new cases in 2006: initially suggesting a decreasing trend. However, the number of diagnoses reported in 2007 reached a new peak of 668 cases. This increase between 2006 and 2007 was mainly due to the increase in diagnoses for men (from 487 to 561 new cases respectively).

 •In 2008, the age-standardised incidence rate of new cases of mesothelioma was 2.9 per 100 000 population.

This rate has increased over time, from 1.2 cases in 1982 to a peak of 3.2 in 2003. In 2008, the highest age-specific incidence rate of new cases occurred among men aged 85 years and over: 48 cases per 100 000 population aged 85 years and over.

Deaths due to mesothelioma

•In 2007 there were 551 deaths attributed to mesothelioma.

Data on the number of deaths due to mesothelioma are available for the years 1997 to 2007. Reflecting the increase in incidence of new cases diagnosed, the overall number of deaths resulting from mesothelioma generally increased over the period between 1997 and 2007: reaching a maximum of 551 deaths in 2007.

 •In 2007, the age-standardised rate of death due to mesothelioma was 2.4 deaths per 100 000 population.

The overall age-standardised rate has remained relatively stable over the 10 years for which data are available. Over the period the standardised rate has ranged between a minimum of 2.1 deaths per 100 000 population in 1999 and a maximum of 2.7 in 2001.’


 Posted by Steven Asnicar