The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has been successful in another prosecution of unlawful conduct in the building and construction industry.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and several of its NSW officials have been penalised more than $1 million for coercing and unlawfully picketing a Sydney-based crane company, Botany Cranes, in January 2019.

The officials admitted to the conduct that was aimed at coercing Botany Cranes to sign-up to a CFMMEU enterprise agreement and reinstate a CFMMEU delegate.

The Morrison Government re-established the independent ABCC on 2 December 2016, to ensure building and construction sites are fair, efficient and productive. This is the second highest penalty since the agency was re-established.

As noted in the Court ruling: “The [CFMMEU] is a serial recidivist in such contravening behaviours…its history of contraventions of industrial law is appalling. That history reflects an embedded culture throughout the organisation of conscious and often, as here, flagrant breaches of the law.”

“…Its conduct, through its three senior officials in this proceeding, displayed utter contempt for the rule of law… Its conduct here demonstrates that the culture of the Union, and its senior officials, is simply “might is right” or “Union – power”. That conduct has no place in our society…

To date, more than $25.7 million in penalties have been awarded in cases brought by the ABCC and its predecessor agencies, with more than $13.7 million in penalties awarded since the ABCC was re-established in December 2016. The CFMMEU and its officials account for the majority of these penalties, at nearly $12.4 million.

Despite profligate law-breaking by unions and tens of millions of dollars in fines, Anthony Albanese and the Labor party want to abolish the organisation holding unions to account.

By proposing to dismantle the independent organisation charged with ensuring promoting and enforcing compliance with workplace laws, Labor is sending a clear message that unions like the CFMMEU need fewer checks and balances, not more.

It is clear Labor is on the side of union officials and not the workers, who will ultimately have to foot the bill for these significant fines.

The building and construction industry that employs 1.1 million people should be able to get on with the job without disruptions and delays caused by coercion and unlawful pickets.