CFMEU fined for unlawful walk-offs in Vic


The CFMEU and 10 of its union officials have been slapped with $590,800 in fines for their "high-handed and arrogant" organising of unlawful staff walk-offs across nine Victorian construction projects.

The Federal Court of Australia on Tuesday imposed 12 separate fines on CFMEU totalling $490,000, and $100,800 in total against the 10 officials for industrial action against Kane Constructions in April and May 2014.

The walk-offs in Melbourne and Geelong took place at Kane worksites at hospitals, a library, a health club, apartments, city chambers and an aged care facility.

Justice Christopher Jessup said in no instance was there "any suggestion of an issue or grievance, specific to the site or workers on it, that justified, or even explained, the organisation of the industrial action".

"...this was done without apology or the slightest sense of obligation to the laws which regulate the conduct of industrial relations in Australia. At times, the attitude of the respondents could only be described as high-handed and arrogant," he told the court.

"The inference is irresistible that the industrial action which was organised by the respondents had the explicit object of inflicting commercial harm on Kane."

Australian Building and Construction Commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss said the decision showed "flagrant disregard" for workplace laws would not be tolerated.

"These are substantial penalties for unlawful industrial action which stopped work on key public projects worth nearly half a billion dollars," he said in a statement.

CFMEU Victorian state secretary John Setka said the union had attempted to protect workers.

"Again we see fines issued against unions for their ongoing efforts to protect workers continue to far outweigh fines issued against companies when they break workplace laws that put workers at risk," he said in a statement.