The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) recently commenced Federal Court action against the CEPU and four of its officials over a number of incidents involving potential safety breaches at the Sydney Metro Trains Facility Site in Rouse Hill.
It is alleged CEPU officials Antony Stegic, Michael Hopper and Stewart Edward organised a day-long stop work of employees undertaking electrical work on the project. The stoppage continued until 10.30am the following day.
The ABCC also alleged that Stegic and fellow CEPU organiser Frederick Barbin caused work on the Rouse Hill site to stop on another day after the pair ignored safety instructions and accessed work areas unaccompanied and without wearing the required protective clothing.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging that Edward entered the site and went to the induction room where employees were gathered, and he stood at the doorway to the induction room and had the following exchange with the employer’s representatives:
The senior project manager allegedly said: “We need to talk to the guys, we have to talk to the guys it is our right to talk with the guys. We need to explain to them their rights. We need to explain to them that they have to go back to work and that the action they are taking at the moment is not right”
Edward allegedly raised his voice and said “You’re not f**king seeing these guys” and then blocked the doorway which prevented the senior project manager from entering the induction room.
On the other day, Stegic and Barbin ignored safety requirements on site and directions from the area safety manager who told them: “You guys can’t enter site unattended and dressed like that.
“It is a condition of entry to site that you are appropriately dressed and accompanied at all times. You do not have gloves, protected eyewear, long sleeve shirts and lace up ankle steel cap boots.”
The ABCC alleges the union officials contravened sections 417, 499 and 500 of the Fair Work Act by:
Organising the employees’ failure to commence work and perform their duties at the Rouse Hill site;
Hindering or obstructing the employees from commencing and performing their duties on the project
Preventing management from speaking to their employees by physically blocking access to the employees and actively opposing efforts to get the employees to return to work; and
Ignoring safety instruction on 14 December while on the Rouse Hill site.
The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $ 54,000 for a body corporate and $10,800 for an individual.