Bill Shorten faces a critical test of his leadership as the Federal Court today penalised the militant CFMMEU and its officials, including CFMMEU Queensland boss and Labor Party National Executive member, Michael Ravbar.

The militant CFMMEU and two of its officials have been penalised a total of $58,500 for coercing a crane company in an attempt to have them sign on to a CFMMEU-friendly enterprise agreement in Brisbane in 2012. The Court found the CFMMEU is:

“an identified recidivist and it has, by its conduct, demonstrated a continuing defiance of the law.”

CFMMEU boss Michael Ravbar has himself been penalised $5,000 for giving the order to take the illegal action that led to today’s Federal Court decision.

The CFMMEU’s conduct cost workers their jobs or significant hours. It was undertaken despite the fact that workers had voted for a different enterprise agreement that gave them better value-for-money redundancy and insurance arrangements.

Bill Shorten has previously said of Mr Ravbar:

“if there is illegality established, well Labor has zero tolerance or place for that within the ranks of the Labor Party”

Despite this, Mr Shorten continues to support Mr Ravbar, who is a voting member of Labor’s National Executive.

Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer, said Bill Shorten should do the right thing and sack Mr Ravbar from his National Executive position and sever ties once and for all with the militant CFMMEU, including by no longer accepting their donations.

“Bill Shorten has given a lawbreaking union boss a seat at the Labor Party’s most powerful table giving him a say about the party’s policy platform and decision-making,” Minister O’Dwyer said.

“This is a test of Bill Shorten’s character – he must demonstrate leadership and remove Michael Ravbar from his National Executive and sever ties with the CFMMEU, including refusing any more CFMMEU donations.”

“The decision today provides all the evidence you need to know about how bullying, intimidation and harassment would return to Australia’s construction sites under Labor, who have promised to scrap the building and construction watchdog the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).”

“This is a textbook example of how Bill Shorten will let lawbreakers become the lawmakers.”

The CFMMEU has been penalised over $16 million for unlawful conduct in cases brought by the ABCC and its predecessors. There are currently 80 CFMMEU representatives before the courts. Since Bill Shorten became leader, the CFMMEU has donated over $4.2 million to the Labor Party.

In the last 10 days alone the Courts have now handed down $2 million worth of penalties against the CFMMEU and its officials for conduct including:

  • Unlawfully shutting down building sites;
  • Abusing, threatening and harassing public servants;
  • Intimidating female police officers;
  • Instigating coordinated strikes across multiple building sites;
  • Disrupting expensive construction work; and
  • Coercing workers into paying union fees before they’re allowed to commence work.

“The CFMMEU see themselves as above the law. If Bill Shorten does not act, it will be clear he is happy to keep them there,” Minister O’Dwyer concluded.