The national regulator for industrial relations in the building and construction industry in Australia has commenced civil proceedings against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and 10 individuals in relation to the unionâ€™s conduct during its industrial action over the Grocon dispute at the Myer Emporium site in Melbourne.
In a statement, Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) says it has collected evidence that the CMFEU, seven of its officials and three of its other representatives contravened the Fair Work Act during the unionâ€™s three-week blockade of the site in a dispute regarding the employment of CFMEU-nominated shop stewards for Grocon work sites.
â€śThis evidence is now the foundation for our own litigation against the CFMEU, seven of its officials and three other CFMEU representatives whom we assert have contravened the Fair Work Act,â€ť FWBC chief executive Leigh Johns says. â€śFWBC will not tolerate unlawful industrial action, which we allege in this case involved coercive behaviour.â€ť
The latest action follows harsh criticism of the regulator over what many see as a lack of action against alleged illegal conduct by the CFMEU, which continued its blockade in defiance of a Supreme Court order to cease such activities.
Organisations such as Master Builders Australia and the Australian Industry Group have claimed that the FWBCâ€™s predecessor, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), would have intervened directly to stop the dispute.
Johns, however, defends both the regulatorâ€™s actions and the time taken to commence proceedings, saying the FWBC has done everything its predecessor would have been able to do with regard to this dispute and that seven weeks was a fast turnaround time for action given the complex nature of the investigations.
The 10 individuals named in the FWBC action are John Setka, Shaun Reardon, Derek Christopher, Elias Spernovasilis, Bill Oliver, Ralph Edwards, Gareth Stephenson, Craig Johnston, Nick Salta and David Lythgo.
In addition to civil penalties, the FWBC says it is seeking compensation for losses incurred by Grocon and others as a result of the dispute.