This week, the Federal Court found that Jim O’Connor, member of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) had breached an injunction imposed following an incident which occurred last year on the site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
reported that Justice John Mansfield ruled O’Connor had behaved in a threatening manner when he demanded a worker “be sacked” and stated that he would “go to war with” site management if jobs were not found for union members.
Despite being hit with a fine of at least $10,200, CFMEU secretary Aaron Cartledge said outside court that the union would not stop its activities.
Fair Work Australia took action against the union and several members in May last year, alleging that O’Connor’s conduct at the building site amounted to a contempt of court because it breached the injunction, which had been imposed two months later.
The members were required, by law, to strictly abide by the right to entry requirements under the Fair Work Act.
Justice Mansfield said in his decision that one of the building site’s managers had felt “threatened and intimidated” by O’Connor, and that the manager was “100% sure” that O’Connor had said: “if you don’t mind [our member] a job, we will go to war with you”.
The Judge said he was satisfied that “war” had been a metaphor for industrial action. He added that the comments were made in contempt of the court, leaving five men and the union liable to penalties.
He adjourned the case for a month before discussing submissions on penalty.
The union is reportedly considering an appeal of the decision.
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A top union figure has been found guilty of being in contempt of court.