A judge has handed down a blistering judgement in which he has accused the CFMEU of not being willing to abide by the law.
“Its conduct here demonstrates that the culture of the union, and its senior officials, is simply “might is right” or “union power”, Justice Rares said. “That conduct has no place in our society. Over 170 prior decisions of courts imposing penalties on it and its officials did not deter the union from attempting, by unlawful coercion and improper pressure, to “wipe the floor” with Botany Cranes until the company capitulated to the union’s demands to reinstate Mr Byrnes and sign the CFMEU proposed EBA.”
Accordingly, he has given the union and some officials a “severe, if not drastic penalty”.
The stoush erupted after Botany Cranes fired an employee, (who was a union delegate) who it believed was tipping off the union with advance information about its jobs.
The union retaliated by organising a picket outside the business, and telling Botany that things were going to get “really bad for you” unless the company reinstated the fired employee and signed an enterprise agreement that the union had been pushing for.
The ABCC has taken legal action against an unrecalcitrant CFMEU over the last few years, accusing the union of trying to coerce crane companies into signing agreements.
Just a few weeks ago the mining and energy division of the union filed paperwork with the Fair Work Commission to split from the militant union.
Such a move, if successful, could financially cripple the loss-making union. Last year the CFMEU reported a net loss of over $270,000 – the mining and energy division reported a net surplus of nearly $1.4 million.