CFMEU Penalised For Improper Conduct

The Federal Circuit and Family Court has imposed a total of $51,280 in penalties against the Construction, Forestry and Maritime Employees Union (CFMEU) and one of its officials for unlawful conduct at a construction site in Melbourne.

The penalties are the result of legal action commenced by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC).

The CFMEU has been penalised $43,290 and Paul Tzimas has been penalised $7,990.

Mr Tzimas, and through him the CFMEU, admitted breaching two sections of the Fair Work Act which apply to permit holders – section 500 (acting in an improper manner) and section 499 (failing to comply with an occupational health and safety requirement).

The breaches occurred at a construction site on the North East Link Project in Melbourne on 4 February 2021.

The unlawful conduct involved Mr Tzimas entering, without authorisation, an area where an excavator was operating and failing to leave the area when he was reasonably requested to do so.

Judge Mark Champion described the conduct as “deliberate and intentionally defiant” and found there was a need for deterrence.

“The seriousness of the impropriety of the conduct – with its stark departure from acceptable OHS standards – requires the imposition of a meaningful penalty against the CFMEU to achieve the aim of deterrence,” Judge Champion said.

Under federal legislation, responsibility for the case transferred from the ABCC to the Fair Work Ombudsman in December 2022.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the court penalties affirmed the seriousness of breaching laws requiring permit holders to act in a proper manner.

“There is no place for improper conduct by permit holders on any worksite,” Ms Booth said.

“Improving compliance across the building and construction industry is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we will investigate reports of non-compliance and hold to account those who act outside the law.”

All building and construction industry employers and employees can seek sector-specific workplace information, advice and assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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