Union starts slush fund to pay fines

The construction union is setting up a slush fund of up to $2 million to cover unlawful strikes by its members in a bold bid to undermine industrial laws.

Assistant secretary Joe McDonald confirmed the 10,000 WA members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union were each being asked for a $200 contribution to the war chest, known as the 200 Club.

The money will be used to pay fines for individual workers who are penalised thousands of dollars each for taking part in illegal industrial action.

Laws to penalise individual construction workers for unlawful strikes were introduced by the Howard government in a bid to deter the costly delays.

Though the previous Labor government watered down the penalties, industry watchdog Fair Work Building and Construction has pursued unlawful strikers with renewed vigour since the Abbott Government came to power.

"We don't leave our wounded out on the battlefield," Mr McDonald said.

"What we are trying to do is look after our own against these dirty, stinking fascist laws.

"Other unions don't do it, but no member of the CFMEU has to put their hand in their pocket for these fines."

Mr McDonald said seven major worksites had so far agreed to pay the levy and Eastern States branches had offered support.

The union would soon hold meetings to boost the war chest, with those who donate given 200 Club badges.

In a sign of the heavy pressure to be put on members, those who refuse must oppose their peers in a public show of hands.

Mr McDonald said the fund would be used to reimburse 84 CBI workers who recently paid fines up to $10,000 each for their involvement in an unlawful eight-day strike on the Woodside liquefied natural gas project in 2008.

Money would be used to pay fines for another 33 CBI workers.

The West Australian

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