The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has been slapped with almost half a million dollars’ worth of fines by a federal court judge after it was found to have breached the Fair Work Act by co-ordinating a “targeted” industrial campaign against a major builder.

    The Australian Building and Construction Commission filed federal court proceedings against the CFMEU in March last year, alleging the group conducted a “co-ordinated industrial campaign” against Kane Constructions after the building company enforced right-of-entry laws on its sites.

    In a strongly worded judgment handed down today, Justice Christopher Jessup said the court had been forced to provide a firm response to the union’s conduct, which involved a “cavalier disregard for the protections” which the workplace act is supposed to deliver.

    “Over the construction sites with which this proceeding has been concerned, in no instance was there any suggestion of an issue or grievance, specific to the site or the workers on it, that justified, or even explained, the organisation of industrial action,” said Justice Jessup.

    “Rather, the pattern tended to be that one of the respondents would arrive at a site, presumably with some agenda external to the interests of those working there, and disrupt the performance of normal work.

    “Commonly, this was done without apology or the slightest sense of obligation to the laws which regulate the conduct of industrial relations in Australia. At times, the attitude of the respondents could only be described as high−handed and arrogant. The inference is irresistible that the industrial action which was organised by the respondents had the explicit object of inflicting commercial harm on Kane.”

    Ten CFMEU officials have also received individual fines ranging between $6,400 to $22,400.

    The union received eleven separate fines, totalling $490,000.

    The 2014 industrial action was conducted on April 2 and May 22, when the CFMEU is said to of co-ordinated simultaneous visits across the Kane building sites, resulting in more than 100 workers walking off the job.

    The sites targeted covered almost half a billion dollars’ worth of Victorian construction projects, including four hospitals, Owen Dixon Chambers in the Melbourne CBD, an aged care facility in Templestowe, an apartment block in Prahran, Simonds Stadium in Geelong and Geelong library.

    The Australian, 11/4/2017

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