Union boss faces court over highway shut-down
THE militant construction union's Queensland boss Michael Ravbar will be pursued through the court to personally pay out thousands of dollars for alleged unlawful industrial action.
Construction watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission has launched court action claiming Mr Ravbar and two other union officials blocked trucks as concrete girders were being unloaded on two occasions, forcing the site to be shut down.
The midnight action allegedly took place at the Sunshine Coast Bruce Highway bridge upgrade at Caloundra on July 23 and 24.
The ABCC is seeking rare personal payment orders against Mr Ravbar and another official Blake Hynes.
If the court finds they breached the Fair Work Act and grants the orders they would face personal fines of up to $12,600 while the union could be hit with penalties of up to $63,000.
According to the statement of claim Mr Ravbar, as well as Te Aranui Albert and Mr Hynes, showed up to the night construction shift at 8.20pm, accompanied by the project's nightshift health and safety adviser.
It claims that shortly after 11.30pm the officials positioned themselves behind a reversing truck delivering concrete girders and refused to move, despite being within an exclusion zone within the site.
The work was shut down at 2am after further refusals by the men to leave, the document claims.
It is alleged similar action took place the following night, resulting in another shutdown due to "safety risks posed by their presence".
The three men were granted access to the site using federal and state entry permits citing "suspected contraventions" of the Workplace Health and Safety Act.
They allegedly ignored repeated requests to leave an exclusion zone where crane lifting works were taking place.
"We are concerned for the safety of the workers, we will not move from the area until the workers are removed from the area," the officials are alleged to have said on entering the site on the second day.
Mr Hynes allegedly "yelled loudly and in an aggressive tone of voice" at the nightshift manager words to the effect of "where are the documents we asked the project provide to us".
"You don't care about safety you're just in it for the wage," Mr Hynes allegedly said.
"When workers are out of the area we will all be happy to move."
The documents claimed CFMEU officials said they saw a crane truck operating unsafely and that a worker jumped over a concrete barrier.
"You've just witnessed an unsafe act what are you going to do about it," Mr Hynes is alleged to have said.
The CFMEU has not yet lodged a response to the claims.
Comment is being sought from the CFMEU.