Legal action launches against union over range crossing
THE construction watchdog has launched legal action against eight CFMMEU union organisers, alleging they caused work on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing Project to be shut down when they unlawfully entered the worksite.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission has lodged a Federal Court claim against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union and eight of its organisers who entered the construction site over three days in late April and early May.
The ABCC claims work on the $1.6 billion project had to be halted several times with the presence of uninducted union officials on the site posing a safety risk.
Court documents allege that union organisers Kurt Pauls and Beau Seiffert attended the site about 11am on Monday, April 30, saying they were there to resolve a dispute on behalf of workers who contacted them about safety incidents.
The men allegedly refused to produce entry permits and entered the site for two hours without permission.
The following day, organisers Mr Pauls, Mr Seiffert, Te Aranui Albert and Blake Hynes again attended the site and entered, refusing to show entry permits and ignoring requests for them to leave.
"Mr Pauls, Mr Seiffer, Mr Albert and Mr Hynes entered the site at approximately 11am at the Gore Highway western section of the site after jumping a concrete barricade and walked along the alignment for about 4km towards the Bridge 23 area," the documents say.
"They were eventually asked to leave by the Queensland Police and were escorted off the site later that afternoon."
The ABCC claims work had to be stopped on the project due to the presence of the union officials.
"The manner was unsafe as live works were taking place on the alignment at that time in that area, including the use of heavy equipment," they said.
"All of these works were stopped due to the safety concerns caused by having unauthorised and uninducted union officials in and around live construction areas where large items of heavy plant and equipment were in operation."
The following day, six union officials Mr Pauls, Hynes, Shaun Desmond, Craig Davidson, Justin Steele and Michael Davis allegedly again attended, saying they wished to enter the site to discuss safety issues and that the employees who had the issue were too scared to speak up.
The men entered the site, again causing work to stop and were later ordered by police to leave.
The maximum penalty for a breach of the Fair Work Act in this case is $63,000 for the union and $12,600 for individual employees.