Canva - Colorful Construction Helmets

The Federal Court has penalised the CFMMEU $38,000 and two of its officials a total of $12,500 after they organised a work stoppage at a $30 million Brighton apartment project over demands for a larger site shed and dedicated female toilet.

On 21 April 2015, CFMMEU officials Stephen Long and Gerard Benstead visited the Bay Street site and demanded that head contractor BPM provide a larger shed for the 16 workers on site, despite the fact the existing shed catered for 18 workers.

On 22 April Mr Long and Mr Benstead again entered the site. After talking to the workers Mr Long advised the senior site supervisor he was “sending the boys home because the amenities aren’t up to standard.”

Following the meeting with the CFMMEU officials a number of workers walked off the job.

Justice Bromberg found the CFMMEU, Mr Long and Mr Benstead engaged in coercion and adverse action by organising the stop work. He also ordered the two officials to personally pay their penalties.

In his judgment Justice Bromberg said:

“I accept that the contravening conduct on 22 April 2015 should be regarded as objectively serious. The conduct was deliberate and, I would infer given Long and Bensteads’ long-standing experience as union officials, engaged in in the knowledge that it was unlawful.”

ABCC Commissioner Stephen McBurney noted the judgment was the eighth in Victoria involving the CFMMEU since the start of the year, with penalties totaling $526,900.

“Similar to many other cases involving the CFMMEU, the officials attended the site with the intention of coercing the head contractor to accede to their demands,” Mr McBurney said.

“When their demands weren’t immediately met the two CFMMEU officials organised for workers to walk off the job causing work on the project to be delayed.

“The Court’s decision and the imposition of personal payment orders on Mr Long and Mr Benstead reinforces the fact that the officials’ actions were unlawful, deliberate and of a serious nature.”

Mr Long was penalised $6,000 and Mr Benstead $6,500. Both have 56 days to pay their penalties.

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