A scathing Federal Court decision fining the CFMMEU for bullying highlights yet again the union’s contempt for the law.
Master Builders Tasmania Executive Director Matthew Pollock said: “The CFMMEU and two of its officials in Tasmania have been fined $221,000 for knowingly entering a construction site unlawfully in May last year so they could bully workers at the Elizabeth Street project, where Vos Construction and Joinery was head contractor.”
“They are failed political aspirant, veteran agitator Kevin Harkins and ricidvist union bully Richard Hassett who had not held a valid right-of-entry permit since December 2018.
“The CFMMEU’s toxic culture of bullying has been highlighted by this Federal Court ruling fining the union for intimidation.
“The decision shows for all to see the CFMMEU’s contempt for the law, and also that its culture of bullying is unacceptable.
“The court also found the pair subsequently lied to the police about their right to be on the site.
“The union’s poisonous culture is highlighted by the court describing these two as ‘recidivist offenders’.”
On an initial unannounced visit on May 23, Mr Hassett claimed the site had asbestos issues. Five days later, Mr Hassett returned with Mr Harkins, who cited a range of alleged suspected safety contraventions, The Australian newspaper reports.
When project manager Brendan Baynes told Mr Hassett he had no authority to be on the site and asked him to leave, Mr Hassett refused and said: “I can do whatever I f..king like.”
Site foreman Jeremy Brown asked Mr Harkins to specify the unsafe equipment to which he wanted to be taken.
Mr Harkins responded “in a loud and intimidating manner, saying words to the effect of: Don’t get smart with me, arsehole. I’m nearly at the end of my career. I don’t give a f..k about what happens to me, but that bloke over there will be onto you (pointing to Mr Hassett)”.
Mr Brown again asked what the safety breaches were but Mr Harkins responded: “You don’t f..king pay me, so I’m not going to tell you.”
The court said Mr Hassett was a “recidivist”; his conduct flagrant and his contraventions deliberate and serious.
Mr Pollock said the court also noted paying the financial penalty is part of the CFMMEU’s ‘doing business’.
“In other words, the union uses repeated bullying and intimidation of people on construction sites to get its way,” Mr Pollock said.
“Master Builders is also gravely concerned that the CFMMEU duo sited apparent safety concerns when questioned about their right to be on site but refused to identify potential safety breaches,”
“Safety must be the number one priority of everyone in the industry. If there are legitimate safety concerns they should be identified but it would be appalling if the CMFMMEU merely used safety as an excuse to enter construction sites in order to bully and intimidate.
“The union’s conduct will also pose a risk to the state’s economic recovery if it doesn’t renounce this kind of behaviour because its unlawful industrial tactics drives up the cost of construction by up to 30 per cent.
“The Government has just launched a massive taxpayer-funded construction program to restore the state’s economy.
“We don’t want to see taxpayers pay more for new schools, hospital wings and other community factlies because the CFMMEU won’t comply with the law like everyone else.”