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The successful prosecution of the CFMEU over a strike at Barangaroo

2 mins  26.09.2018 Gareth Jolly, Harriet Eager
MinterEllison is acting on behalf of the Australian Building and Construction Commission in the successful prosecution of the CFMEU over a strike at Barangaroo, and the ongoing appeal.

Key takeouts


Advised on the prosecution of the CFMEU over a strike at Barangaroo – one of the largest construction projects in the Southern Hemisphere at the time.

 

The prosecution was successful and resulted in the Court imposing the highest fines imposed on the CFMEU and its officials to date totalling nearly $2.5 million.

 

The restoration of the rule of law in the building industry benefits the industry and the broader Australian community.

 

MinterEllison is acting for the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in relation to a prosecution brought against the CFMEU and nine union officials and delegates (including the State Secretary, Brian Parker, and Assistant Secretary, Rob Kera) for various contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) in relation to a work stoppage at Barangaroo in July 2014. At the time, Barangaroo was one of the largest construction projects in the Southern Hemisphere.

The ABCC alleges that the respondents organised the work stoppage at the Barangaroo development site in an attempt to coerce the developer of the site to reinstate a union delegate who had been stood down following an internal workplace investigation.

The outcome

The prosecution was successful against all bar one individual and resulted in the Court imposing record fines totalling nearly $2.5 million – including the maximum penalty $1.36 million against the CFMEU itself and $950,000 against the CFMEU NSW. He also referred four of the CFMEU officials to the Department of Public Prosecution for consideration of possible perjury charges and ordered the CFMEU to take out advertisements about the judgment, including in the CFMEU 'Unity' magazine.

The prosecution has resulted in the highest fines imposed on the CFMEU and its officials to date and has attracted widespread media attention, including being featured on the front page of The Australian newspaper, and in the Sydney Morning Herald (“CFMEU NSW faces fines of more than $2.4m for Barangaroo strikes”) and on the ABC (“CFMEU facing millions in penalties over unlawful industrial action in 2014”).

The significance

The imposition of maximum penalties on the CFMEU, having regard to their record of contraventions, will assist in deterring further breaches. Since the original decision, there has been at least one other case in which maximum penalties have been imposed on the CFMEU.

The restoration of the rule of law in the building industry benefits the industry and the broader Australian community.

The CFMEU and other respondents filed an appeal, which was heard in May 2018 by the Full Court of the Federal Court. Their decision has been reserved and it's expected to be handed down in late 2018.

This item is featured in our 2018 Annual Report

Return to the Report or keep browsing our site.

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