The Federal Parliament on Thursday heard shocking evidence of intimidating and threatening behaviour by Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials, according to testimony given by Fair Work Building Commission (FWBC) to the Senate Education and Employment Committee.
“The evidence provided by the building watchdog’s director Nigel Hadgkiss stunned the committee,” chair Senator McKenzie said.
“There is a clear pattern of harassment, intimidation, threats, abuse and even assaults on inspectors from Fair Work Building Commission visiting building sites to ensure industrial relations laws are followed.”
• One female inspector visiting the Bangaroo casino hotel construction site in Sydney was surrounded by 40 CFMEU members and called a “f***ing slut” on a loud hailer.
• Another inspector was cornered by a CFMEU member who told him “You're just about to have a heart attack. You're sh***ing yellow, you piece of sh*t.”
Senator McKenzie said she was shocked and outraged at the intimidatory behaviour, particularly against women officials.
Mr Hadgkiss said he had serious concerns for the safety of his staff with eleven instances of assault or abuse against them in the past 12 months.
He revealed his own family had been a victim of CFMEU intimidation, with footage of his wife returning from her mother’s funeral being displayed at building sites.
Mr Hadgkiss said the culture of abuse went right to the top with every CFMEU State Secretary and the National Secretary currently having matters being heard by the courts.
FWBC has 145 active investigations against the CFMEU in relation to coercion, breaches of right of entry and unlawful industrial action.
The Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz confirmed the Government is bringing new legislation to Parliament to strengthen the powers of the building watchdog.
“These are certain to be opposed by Labor and the Greens at the unions’ direction, so their fate will rest with the eight crossbench senators,” Senator McKenzie said.
The testimony can be viewed at http://parlview.aph.gov.au/mediaPlayer.php?videoID=241045. It begins at 1:53:15 in the video.