The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a total of $72,500 in penalties against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and one of its officials for unlawful conduct at a construction site in Belgrave.
The penalties are the result of legal action commenced by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC).
The CFMMEU has been penalised $62,000 and CFMMEU official Paul Tzimas has been penalised $10,500.
Mr Tzimas, and through him the CFMMEU, admitted committing two breaches of the section of the Fair Work Act that prohibits improper conduct by permit holders.
The conduct occurred on 2 May 2022 at the construction site for a multi-story commuter car park at the Belgrave Railway Station.
The conduct involved Mr Tzimas twice pushing a senior site manager, causing the manager to lose balance and take a few steps back, and Mr Tzimas knocking the manager’s hard hat off his head.
Judge Amanda Mansini found that the contraventions were deliberate, and said there was a need to impose penalties “to incentivise both future compliance on the part of individuals and a culture of compliance on the part of industrial organisations that employ individual permit-holders to act in the interests of their members.”
The Court ordered that Mr Tzimas personally pay at least $3,150 of the penalty imposed against him.
Under federal legislation, responsibility for the case transferred from the ABCC to the Fair Work Ombudsman in December 2022.
Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the court penalties affirmed the seriousness of breaching laws requiring permit holders to act in a proper manner.
“There is no place for aggressive physical contact by permit holders on any worksite,” Ms Booth said.
“Improving compliance across the building and construction industry is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we will investigate reports of non-compliance and hold to account those who are acting outside the law.”
All building and construction industry employers and employees can seek sector-specific workplace information, advice and assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Employers and employees can also visit www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for free advice and assistance. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.