The ACT CFMEU’s officials may face more than $1million in fines for breaching safety laws on Canberra construction sites, allegations that the union and its state secretary Dean Hall have labelled as a stunt by people putting profit first.
According to a recent article on Smh.com.au, there are six senior ACT union officials who are at risk of being prosecuted. These officials apparently breached safety laws on construction sites in Canberra which placed workers at risk.
The Fair Work Building and Construction agency has filed papers in the Federal Circuit Court which alleges that 32 breaches of the Fair Work Act were committed by the CFMEU and its officials. According to Fair Work these alleged breaches occurred between August 2013 and March 2014.
Dean Hall, CFMEU ACT state secretary spoke out against the accusations, calling it a “petty stunt by those who would rather put profits before safety”.
.The officials included in the allegations are Mr Hall, assistant secretary Jason O’Mara, former Canberra Raider and now union organiser Johnny Lomax, and organiser Zachary Smith.
According to the article on Smh.com.au, there are documents which show that Fair Work will allege 18 breaches by the union’s organisers and another 18 breaches against the AC T branch. Each breach carries a maximum penalty of $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 per breach for the union.
The alleged breaches occurred on 3 construction sites over a period of 7 months. The construction sites were in Franklin, Harrison and Wright, where large scale apartment and townhouse developments were being constructed.
Breaches alleged include:
- Failure to produce an entry permit for inspection when requested
- Failure to follow occupational health and safety requirements of the construction sites
- Obstructing employees from doing their job
- Misrepresenting authorisation to be on a site unaccompanied
Specific acts include the disruption of a concrete pour and a threat to stop another. According to the post on Smh.com.au Mr Hall from the union said:
“Watch what happens when I stop their pour. There’s going to be a punch on here.”
Mr Lomax then allegedly told a subcontractor that the developers of the site had a “bad attitude and it needs to be fixed. They’ll get plenty of trouble when they start that Harrison site across the road as well.”
The article went on to detail more alleged unacceptable behaviour by union officials,
Another time, when told to obey site rules of being chaperoned by staff, Mr Smith allegedly yelled and pointed a finger in the site manager’s face, saying: “I’m here as a WH&S officer! You can’t f—-ing tell me what to do.”
When the manager then threatened to end the visit if Mr Smith did not rejoin the escorted group, the union official allegedly called the man a “f—— idiot”.
Nigel Hadgkiss, Fair Work director said that the alleged offences indicated an increasing trend of disregarding right of entry laws, which he said are meant to minimise disruption on construction site while still allowing union officials the right to do their jobs. He says that union officials who break these right of entry laws are showing a disregard for occupational health and safety laws.
“Safety is paramount on construction sites and it is frightening that some union officials appear to have no regard for safety rules designed to protect them and others.”