A major trade union and its representatives allegedly broke the law 822 times after shutting down two Queensland work sites, a federal government agency says.
Fair Work Building and Construction says the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and 21 of its officers and agents committed the offences as part of a prolonged campaign to force the sites’ head contractors into signing an enterprise agreement.
The sites, a $60 million Queensland University of Technology project and a $770 million redevelopment of the Enoggera Army Barracks in Brisbane, were shut down for a combined 97 days in 2013.
FWBC alleged CFMEU official Anthony Kong told a contractor at the Enoggera site whether the agreement was going to be “fixed soon or am I going to be here for another one or two weeks?”
The operations manager allegedly responded: “It’s hard to fix it with a gun pointed to your head.”
In another instance, FWBC alleges workers voted to return to work, but CFMEU assistant state secretary Jade Ingham replied by saying, “Look, I’m running this meeting, keep quiet.”
During that time, the CFMEU instructed workers to down tools at various points despite a Fair Work Commission order preventing the union from organising industrial action at the sites.
The FWBC alleged the industrial action affected the QUT site on 48 days and the Enoggera site on 49 days.
The agency has accused the union of breaking the law 411 times and 21 representatives, including state secretary Michael Ravbar, of committing a combined 411 breaches as well.
FWBC director Nigel Hadgkiss said it was in the public’s best interest to take this matter to the courts.
“All building and construction industry participants should have the right to work,” Mr Hadgkiss said.
“Reports of workers being told to be quiet when they express an interest in going to work are extremely concerning.”
The matter is listed for a directions hearing on August 7.
Comment from CFMEU has been sought.