The CFMMEU has been fined $270,000. Picture: Stuart McEvoy
The CFMMEU has been fined $270,000. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

CFMMEU cops heavy fine over picketing

THE militant construction union has been hit with fines totalling $270,000 in the first successful prosecution under laws banning illegally picketing on building sites.

The Federal Court judgment, handed down on Friday, penalised the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union over blockades at cold storage warehouses in Melbourne in 2017.

Union organiser John Perkovic and a group of men used a vehicle to block access to a NewCold site - a distribution point for major food manufacturers.

When asked to leave, one of the men told site managers: "Piss off, we're here, we're staying."

Fellow organiser Kane Pearson and union member Mario Raspudic blocked a second NewCold site at about the same time and also restricted access by parking a vehicle across a driveway.

CFMEU organiser Kane Pearson.
CFMEU organiser Kane Pearson.

Justice David O'Callaghan said the union figures behaved with "an apparent sense of impunity" by claiming their vehicles had broken down and that they had lost their keys.

He said the CFMMEU had demonstrated "its apparent willingness to contravene industrial laws in a serious way".

The Australian Building and Construction Commission launched the prosecution using laws which re-established the watchdog in 2016. It has two further illegal picketing cases before the courts at the moment.

"This is the first case that has been decided under the new penalty regime aimed at deterring the unlawful conduct we see all too often on construction sites," ABCC commissioner Stephen McBurney said.

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"The cost of doing business just went up for the union … In the past three months alone, penalties imposed by the courts against the CFMMEU total more than $500,000."

"Significantly, there is no indication from the union or its officials that they intend to rectify their conduct either in this case or more generally."

The CFMMEU was penalised $215,000, with $20,000 fines handed to Mr Pearson and Mr Perkovic, and a $15,000 fine slapped on Mr Raspudic.

The union was also ordered to pay the watchdog's legal costs.

Justice O'Callaghan said: "There is the need for deterrence of an organisation of its size."

tom.minear@news.com.au

@tminear


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