‘Grubby little c---’: Union cops $40k fine for site abuse
A CONSTRUCTION union has been hit with a $40,000 penalty over the abusive and threatening behaviour of one of its delegates at a Sunshine Coast building site.
CFMMEU delegate James Fissenden threatened to pull workers off a Sunshine Plaza Shopping Centre site last year, after discovering a shopfitter was not a union member.
After Norman Holdings (Qld), which was doing the work, paid $625 to the union to cover shopfitter Cooper Crosthwaite's union fee, the Sunday work went ahead.
In the Federal Court, It was admitted that Mr Fissenden had taken adverse action against Mr Crosthwaite and Norman Holdings.
Justice Darryl Rangiah found Mr Fissenden and the union contravened the Fair Work Act, when the delegate threatened to deny Mr Crosthwaite and other contractors the right to work on March 10, last year.
At a recent Federal Court hearing, Chris Murdoch QC, for the ABCC, Building and said Mr Fissenden's behaviour could fairly be described as "aggressive, intimidatory loud and abusive".
Mr Murdoch said in effect it was "plain and pure industrial standover tactics".
Mr Fissenden was alleged to have told the non-union shopfitter: "I remember you now. You were that cheeky f---ing little c--- who refused to be part of the union.
You're a grubby little c---. I remember tearing your papers up."
In his judgment, Justice Rangiah said two video recordings showed Mr Fissenden being loud and abusive, using offensive language to describe Mr Crosthwaite.
"Mr Fissenden's conduct involved a threat to the incomes and revenues of Mr Crosthwaite and Norman Holdings," the judge said.
But the threat was confined to preventing Mr Crosthwaite and others from working for a single day and it was never enacted, Justice Rangiah said.
However, Norman Holdings was required to pay the union $625.20 to avoid that outcome and there had been no evidence of any contrition by the union or its delegate.
While Mr Fissenden had no previous Fair Work Act contraventions, the union had an extensive history of contraventions of industrial law, Justice Rangiah said.
There had been 168 cases in which Federal courts had imposed penalties on the union for contraventions of various acts.
"Most relevantly, 19 of those cases involved the union engaging in similar conduct to that engaged in by Mr Fissenden … a 'no ticket-no start" policy at construction sites," the judge said.
The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner asked Federal Court Justice Darryl Rangiah to give the maximum $63,000 penalty to the union.
However, Justice Rangiah said the conduct of Mr Fissenden did not fall into the worst category of cases, so as to justify a maximum penalty.
"However, the union's significant history of prior contraventions and apparent disregard for compliance with the law does indicate that a more severe penalty is justified as a specific deterrent," Justice Rangiah said.
He ordered the union to pay $40,000 and Mr Fissenden to pay $4000, with $625.20 to go to Norman Holdings and the rest to the Commonwealth.
Originally published as 'Grubby little c---': Union cops $40k fine for site abuse