Union officials charged over roadworks delays
SIX construction union officials have been charged with trespassing after a series of alleged interruptions to work at an M1 Bruce Highway upgrade worksite.
The Federal Court has intervened to stop repeated entries by CFMEU officials to the $900 million Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway upgrade project, which has allegedly caused costly delays over the past month.
Documents filed with the court allege on nine occasions between March 8 and April 17, a number of union officials entered the worksite without showing their permits which caused staff to stop work in order to guarantee the safety of the CFMEU officials.
Project construction manager Jonathan Eames filed an affidavit saying he was forced to cancel two shifts, standing down 80 workers for a Saturday shift on April 14 and 40 workers for the night shift from April 14 to 15.
"The reason that I made this decision was because in light of the conduct of the CFMMEU officials entering the Project site … on each of 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 April 2018 that my expectation was that the same would occur on 14 April 2018," he said.
"The number of management staff on site on weekend shifts is less than weekday shifts and accordingly I formed the view that there would be insufficient resources to manage any CFMMEU official entry on Saturday."
Mr Eames said the cancellation of shifts would cost between $20,000 and $30,000 and cause further delays to the project.
"A significant amount of time of key managerial staff on the project site has been taken up by the issue of the CFMEU/CFMMEU officials seeking to enter … by not producing their entry permits when asked and entering anyway," he said.
CFMMEU union official Royce Kupsch filed an affidavit saying on a number of the site entries, union officials "attempted to assist workers with issue resolution".
"On 17 April 2018 there were workplace safety issues at the project," Mr Kupsch said.
"On each of those dates (April 10, 12, 13, 16 and 17) officials of the union, including myself on 17 April 2018, were issued Notices to Appear by the Queensland Police Service for allegedly committing the summary offence of trespass.
"So far 11 such notices have been issued to six officials of the union. The Union and the officials intend to defend those proceedings including by making submissions about the proper operation of … of the WHS Act."
Justice Berna Collier today granted an injunction restraining the union from entering the worksite without an entry permit saying the order will "simply require CFMMEU officials wishing to attend the site … to produce an entry permit under the Fair Work Act".
"I also note that six of the seven individual respondents have an entry permit - the production by them of those permits is scarcely a hardship to either them or the CFMMEU," Justice Collier said.
"The improvement notices indicate that there are safety issues associated with the site.
"These safety issues could have been identified by union officials having entered the site pursuant to entry permits."