Building union rep sued for banning workers

The Australian, March 26, 2019

The construction union is facing court for allegedly preventing an electrician and apprentice from working on a site because they were not union members.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission claims CFMEU shop steward Kevin Pattinson banned the duo from working on the Monash Peninsula student accommodation project in Frankston, in outer Melbourne, on September 13. Electrician Trent Dorrington and third-year apprentice Peter Rabi had been engaged to install solar panels at the Multiplex project.

According to the ABCC’s statement of claim, Mr Pattinson ­approached the men during a site induction and asked them: “Are you union? Do you have a ticket for your fees? Have you paid your fees?”

Mr Dorrington replied: “No, we’re not a union-based company so we don’t have our ticket.”

Mr Pattinson responded: “If you don’t have your card you are not working on the site.

“If you guys aren’t paying your fees and everyone else on the site is unionised and has paid fees, it’s not fair for you guys to work on the site. So, I am going to ask you guys to leave. You guys have to get off site.”

Both workers left and Mr Dorrington called his employer, Brendan Laidlaw, the director of the subcontracting company, telling him “we’ve been kicked off the site because … we’re not union”.

The ABCC is alleging contraventions of the adverse action and misrepresentation provisions in the Fair Work Act.

The maximum penalty per contravention is $63,000 for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union and $12,600 for Mr Pattinson.