The nation’s biggest construction union, the CFMEU is facing a huge six figure fine for illegally entering a building site in Adelaide.
The union is facing the hefty fine after admitting that some of its officials entered a construction site in the Adelaide CBD without giving the 24 hour notice as is required. The CFMEU official, secretary Aaron Cartledge apparently forced his way onto the site in Flinders Street together with other union officials. The officials entered the site to speak with Mitcon Formwork employees over 2 days in March, getting into a fight with the site’s foreman on the second day.
The Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate said the foreman tried to stop the union officials from entering the site when the altercation ensued. The foreman apparently stood at the gate to bar the officials entry to the site when he was pulled out of the way by one of the officials.
The Fair Work Lawyer had this to say about the incident,
The lawyer Gail Archer told the hearing the union officials had been determined to get into the site and “no man or no law was going to stop them from doing it”.
“They just didn’t care about the need for entry notices,” she said.
“Any conduct that uses physical force in that context is grave.”
Archer also stated that the union officials tried to depict the foreman as a villain for trying to bar them entry but he was actually “surprisingly courageous”.
According to the article on Yahoo News, lawyer for the union Nick Healy said the officials were not “looking for a fight” and also admitted to having broken the law by entering the worksite without prior arrangements.
Archer went on to state about the altercation,
He told the court one union official had been holding a sausage roll and the altercation had not been serious enough to make him drop his food.
“There was no carefully planned or executed attack on the site by the union’s officials,” he told the hearing.
“It was really a clumsy operation … it could hardly be considered in the most serious range.”
But Ms Archer countered that the sausage roll was indicative of the union strength during the incident.
“You hold your sausage roll if you’ve got the weight of numbers,” she said.
Following the proceedings Mr Cartledge said that the prosecution was a waste of resources. He even described the proceedings as a needless waste of taxpayers’ money. He went on to explain:
“Taxpayers should be alarmed at the needless waste of money in pursuing organised labour and their unions on building sites when there are rogue employers on many jobs across the commercial industry, they’re exploiting building workers, underpaying them, putting them at risk every day, yet the FWBC [Fair Work Building and Construction] doesn’t go to those sites,” he said.