ACT CFMEU taken to court by Fair Work Building Construction

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A senior CFMEU official is facing court after he reportedly refused to obey safety rules during a site visit. Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) is also alleging the official, Dean Hall – who is the Australian Capital Territory CFMEU State Secretary – disrupted a concrete pour and threatened to stop another one.

FWBC also claims Mr Hall produced a square of paper the size of a matchbox when site management asked him to show his right of entry permit on a construction site. Right of entry permits are A4-sized documents. The small piece of paper Mr Hall produced was illegible apart from his name, the Australian Government logo and the words “Fair Work”.

The case filed in the Federal Circuit Court also claims the CFMEU and CFMEU (ACT Branch) organisers Halafihi Kivalu, Johnny Lomax, Jason O’Mara, Zachary Smith and Kenneth Miller broke right of entry laws on several occasions between August 2013 and March 2014. Mr Hall and the other organisers allegedly broke the law on three different construction sites in Canberra – all large scale apartment and townhouse developments.

On a site in Franklin, ACT, Mr Hall allegedly told a concrete pump operator “stop pumping or I’ll make you lose your ticket!” As a direct result of this, the operator packed up the concrete pump and left the site. Mr Hall reportedly said to fellow organiser Johnny Lomax: “watch what happens when I stop their pour. There’s going to be a punch on here.” When a subcontractor said to Mr Lomax “You are just trying to stop my job”, Lomax allegedly replied: “It’s not about you mate. Ever since we started coming here these Village guys have had bad attitude and it needs to be fixed and they’ll get plenty of trouble when they start that Harrison site across the road as well”.

FWBC is also alleging that Mr Hall, Mr Kivalu, Mr O’Mara and Mr Smith failed to obey safety laws during site visits. Mr Hall told a senior manager who asked him to follow safety rules “…I have a permit to enter the site and it overrides your site rules”. When told to follow site safety rules, Mr Smith allegedly positioned his face centimetres from the site manager’s face, yelled “I’m here as a WH&S Officer! You can’t f***ing tell me what to do” and pointed his finger at the site manager.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said the alleged offences were indicative of an increasing trend of disregard for right of entry laws. “Right of entry laws exist to minimize disruption to construction sites while affording union officials the right to do their jobs. Reports that union officials continue to break right of entry laws and show no respect for occupational health and safety laws once on site are alarming,” Mr Hadgkiss said. “Safety is paramount on construction sites and it is frightening that some union officials appear to have no regard for safety rules designed to protect them and others.”

The maximum penalties available to the court in this case are $10,200 per breach for an individual and $51,000 per breach for a union. FWBC is alleging 18 breaches by CFMEU organisers and 18 breaches by the CFMEU (ACT Branch).

FWBC have produced a media backgrounder on their action.

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