THE LATEST Federal Court judgement handing down over $130,000 in fines sees the total penalties against building unions for breaking workplace laws now exceeds four million dollars – this financial year alone – according to Master Builders Australia.
"Building unions have now racked up over $4 million in fines for bullying and illegal conduct on building sites in just one financial year alone" said Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia.
"This high amount over such a short time gives four million extra reasons why the ABCC is essential to ensure everyone plays by the rules on building sites," she said.
Within the judgment (ABCC v Richard Xavier Hassett, Kevin Harkins and the CFMMEU) the Federal Court found that two building union officials had committed serious safety breaches and broke Right of Entry of laws, representing six separate contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and resulting in penalties of almost $140,000.
In handing down the penalties, Justice O’Callaghan said that the officials conduct was a:
"serious breach of [the Fair Work laws]… because it was very dangerous, which [the official] must have known, and it was serious because [the official] gained entry to the site purportedly in respect of safety corners – only to place the crane operator and others potentially in harm’s way."
The Court went on to find that the dangerous conduct:
"…was made all the more serious by the fact that when he was told to get off the crane, he refused."
His Honour also noted the same official had committed similar breaches of safety and workplace laws on multiple occasions in the past, and referenced the conduct of the union more broadly noting it was:
“a large organisation with significant financial resources which exhibits apparent willingness to contravene the [Fair Work Act] in a serious way to impose its will”.
"Building unions need to stop thinking that the laws don't apply to them and play by the rules like everyone else," Ms Wawn said.
"This is exactly why the ABCC is so crucial in protecting workers and small businesses."