In what is believed to be an Australian-first, the Victorian CFMMEU is seeking penalties of more than $4 million against four police officers and the civil construction giant McConnell Dowell for allegedly stopping union safety officials from inspecting "high-risk work" at a level-crossing removal project.
A CFMMEU official has retained his entry permit despite being heavily fined for his part in a heated worksite stoush, the FWC finding he was acting on "genuine but mistaken" legal advice about his rights.
The CFMMEU is taking a building company to court for allegedly requiring 24 hours' written notice for permit holders wanting to investigate suspected safety breaches at a WA construction site unless the union sent someone qualified to carry out testing.
The ABCC is pursuing the CFMMEU and eight organisers for repeatedly refusing to show entry permits at a major Queensland road project on the basis they were responding to safety issues as "concerned citizens, not as union officials".
The big stick handed to the ABCC in the form of personal payment orders against contravening union officials has been whittled further with two Federal Court decisions reinforcing that past records and a clear appreciation of consequences must first be taken into account.
A Federal Court finding that CFMMEU construction and general division Queensland branch secretary Michael Ravbar engaged in coercion and adverse action may be raised in future proceedings about his fitness to hold an entry permit.
A Federal Court judge has evoked the memory of the BLF's deregistration in the course of handing out maximum fines to the CFMMEU for "deplorable" breaches by a past State branch president, suggesting that any organisation that fails to rein in aberrant behaviour "cannot expect to remain registered in its existing form".
In a significant blow to ABCC attempts to rein in the behaviour of union officials by holding them personally liable for breach fines, the Federal Court has today ruled that an offender's past record must be taken into account before imposing such conditions.