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Issue #1730      May 11, 2016

Case study

Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) in practice

The CFMEU and six of its officials in Western Australia were taken to court by the FWBC in September 2014 over a picket at the Perth International Airport’s Arrivals Expansion Project.

The FWBC alleged that “the respondents took coercive action on October 22, 2013, in the form of a blockade of the project site, because of allegations of unpaid entitlements.”

They have been found guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The individual officials are facing penalties totalling up to $50,000 and the union’s fines could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The 100 or so workers had not been paid for six weeks by a shonky subcontractor. Their long service leave, superannuation and redundancy money had not been paid. Those are all statutory requirements in the industry.

The union recovered around $400,000 from the builder for the workers – a great outcome and what trade unions are there for. Without the picket this would not have been achieved.

Instead of the employer being taken to court by the FWBC for breaches of the Act, the union and its officials face massive fines for “coercion”!

The FWBC and the ABCC have a history of such cases. There was a substantial reduction in the size of the penalties following Labor’s changes, but little difference when it came to hounding and intimidating trade unions, their officials and workers.

Next article – Capitalism and entitlement

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