CFMMEU officers face court over OHS COVID-19 breaches

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) has commenced legal action in court against the CFMMEU and two of its officers, for right of entry contraventions at the Central Energy Plant Towers Upgrade in South Brisbane. The ABCC alleges that the CFMMEU officers, Andrew Blakeley and Beau Seiffert, acted in an improper manner and repeatedly refused to sign in and comply with the site’s occupational health and safety coronavirus (COVID-19) requirements. Blakeley also allegedly verbally abused a site manager.

In its Statement of Claim filed with the court, the ABCC alleges that on 23 November 2020, Blakeley directed workers to cease work when he had no power to do so. Blakeley and Seiffert also defied the site manager’s request for them to leave, with Blakeley saying: “We aren’t going anywhere.” The officers continued to walk around the project site and refused to follow the site manager’s repeated requests for them to leave or wait at the gate until inspectors from Work Health and Safety Queensland arrived. Blakeley also shouted abuse at the site manager throughout the visit, it is alleged. At no time did either Blakeley or Seiffert sign in or complete a COVID-19 declaration to enter the site.

The ABCC alleges that the officials and the CFMMEU have contravened sections 499 and 500 of the Fair Work Act 2009. The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act is $66,600 for the CFMMEU and $13,320 for the officials. The ABCC is also seeking personal payment orders against Blakeley and Seiffert; this would require court-imposed penalties to be paid by the officers, not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU or through crowd funding.

Soutrce: NSCA Foundation

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