The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has launched proceedings against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and six of its Queensland-based officials alleging they intimidated Northern Territory Worksafe Inspectors and demanded the head contractor shut down construction at the Palmerston Police Station site.
The case, which was filed in the Federal Court in Darwin, means that the ABCC currently has a case in every state and territory against CFMMEU’s construction division.
The $30 million Palmerston Police Station is an important law and order and community safety facility that will increase the capacity of the current police station (enabling up to 200 police to deliver key policing outcomes into the future) and includes new facilities such as an emergency response centre and community hall.
In addition to the allegation of intimidation, the ABCC is also claiming the CFMMEU’s officials engaged in adverse action, coercion and misrepresentation while at the site and acted in an ‘improper manner’ while exercising the right of entry.
The ABCC alleges in its statement claim that on 14 May 2018:
The head contractor called ABCC officers and NT Worksafe Inspectors to the site after two of the CFMMEU officials repeatedly demanded that the contractor shut the site down claiming there were safety issues and threatened that the contractor would ‘pay the price’ if it failed to do so.
After the ABCC officers attended the site, three of the CFMMEU officials told the site’s Health and Safety Advisor that they were going to make it hard on him because the ABCC had attended the site and because NT WorkSafe Inspectors were coming.
The same three CFMMEU officials said to the Health and Safety Advisor words to the effect that ‘we’re going to go through ya now’.
When NT Worksafe officers arrived at the site, two of the CFMMEU officials behaved in an intimidating manner towards the Worksafe officers.
Furthermore, one of the CFMMEU officials gave workers misleading information advising them they could leave the site on full pay due to safety concerns.
The maximum penalty, in this case, is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.
As of writing the CFMMEU has not commented on this matter and this article will be adjusted accordingly once / if they do so.