CFMEU, director penalised for making 'intimidatory threat'

Both were handed a combined penalty of $36,300

CFMEU, director penalised for making 'intimidatory threat'

The Construction, Forestry, and Maritime Employees Union (CFMEU) and one of its directors have been penalised for making an "intimidatory threat" against a health and safety manager.

The Federal Circuit and Family Court imposed a $33,300 penalty against CFMEU, and another $3,300 penalty against its official, Gerald McCrudden, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Judge Amanda Mansini said McCrudden made an "intimidatory threat" that was a "deliberate attempt to prevent the manager from exercising his workplace right (and responsibility) to make a complaint or inquiry to the then building industry regulator."

According to Mansini, the penalties were necessary to deter the CFMEU and McCrudden from future breaches.

'Intimidatory threat' at work

McCrudden, and through him the CFMEU, admitted to violating the Fair Work Act for taking an adverse action against a health and safety manager in June 2021 at the Mordialloc Freeway extension project in south-east Melbourne.

According to the FWO, McCrudden told the health and safety manager that: "You're not going to have much of a future if you continue talking to the ABCC. You'll see mate, you'll see."

The Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) commenced legal action against the union and McCrudden following the incident.

Responsibility for the case was later transferred from the ABCC to the Fair Work Ombudsman in December 2022 under federal legislation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Anna Booth said the penalties imposed affirmed the seriousness of the case, noting that there's no place for adverse action in Australian workplaces.

"Improving compliance across the building and construction industry is a priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman, and we will investigate reports of non-compliance and hold to account those who are acting outside the law," Booth said in a statement.

"All workplace participants, including employers and employees, have the right to speak to regulators without facing threats of negative consequences, and we urge them to do so."

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