Unions
Unions

‘Grubby little c---’: Union accused of ‘aggressive, abusive’ behaviour

A FEDERAL Court judge has been asked to give the maximum penalty to a construction union because of the threatening behaviour of one of its delegates.

The construction watchdog has accused the CFMMEU of coercion, over an alleged incident at a Sunshine Plaza Shopping Centre construction site at Maroochydore in March, last year.

Union delegate James Fissenden allegedly went on an expletive-laden tirade after discovering a non-union shopfitter, employed by contractor ESY Constructions.

Mr Fissenden said unless he received $625 for the shopfitter's union dues within 15 minutes, he and other contractors would be pulled off the Sunday work, documents lodged with the Federal Court in Brisbane allege.

At a Federal Court hearing today, Chris Murdoch QC, for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, said Mr Fissenden's behaviour could fairly be described as "aggressive, intimidatory and abusive".

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has accused the CFMMEU of coercion. Picture: Jerad Williams
The Australian Building and Construction Commission has accused the CFMMEU of coercion. Picture: Jerad Williams

Mr Murdoch said in effect it was "plain and pure industrial standover tactics".

The Australian Building and Construction Commission has alleged the union breached the coercion and adverse action sections of the Fair Work Act.

The CFMMEU faces a maximum $63,000 penalty and its delegate a $12,600 fine.

Mr Fissenden is alleged to have told the non-union shopfitter: "I remember you now. You were that cheeky f---ing little c--- who refused to be part of the union.

"You're a grubby little c---. I remember tearing your papers up."

He allegedly then said to a director of the shopfitting company: "Unless we get $625.20, I am going down to me office now, in the next 15 minutes, you will not be working on Sunday."

Other workers were only allowed to work on the site that day after the shopfitting company paid the $625.20 union membership fee, the court has been told.

 

Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah.
Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah.

 

Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah was told the adverse action was the threat to deny the shopfitter and other employees of the contractor the right to work.

Mr Murdoch said it was an apt case for the union to receive the maximum fine, to ensure the "sting" of the penalty was a sufficient deterrent.

Mr Murdoch said although there had been early admissions by the union, there was no evidence of any contrition in relation to its delegate's conduct.

He said the union's past history of contraventions of the Act illuminates" the seriousness of the contravention on the Sunshine Coast work site.

Counsel for the union said it had made admissions at the earliest possible opportunity and she referred to the limited nature of the threat, only on one day.

Justice Rangiah has reserved his decision.



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