Unionist ‘ropeable’ at resignations
Construction unionist Brad Upton was said to be ropeable over mass union resignations when he attended a meeting at which he is accused of abusing and threatening non-union workers on the Gorgon project.
In the Federal Court last week, Justin Bourke, for the Australian Building and Construction Commission, said Mr Upton was angry when he went to Barrow Island on December 3, 2015, because he had heard rumours that 90 workers had quit the union a day after getting a new pay deal.
The ABCC alleges he called the 90 workers “f ...... dog c .... ” at a crib room meeting and threatened to use standover tactics, such as writing their names on toilet doors.
It alleges the comments constituted coercion and a breach of rightof-entry laws.
“Upton was absolutely ropeable when he came on that site,” Mr Bourke said. “He had had enough of (having) a union site and not having unionists on site.”
Mr Upton told the court he had only repeated the derogatory term and threats raised by night-shift staff, and did not even know if the rumours were true.
He said he did not scream at the meeting, but spoke loudly and on a range of matters.
Mr Upton’s lawyer, Julia Watson, said he conceded to only one sentence, telling non-union workers to “f... off” because they were not welcome on union sites.
“‘You can all f... off’ might not be nice, but it’s not a threat,” Ms Watson told the court.
She said the ABCC’s case hung on a misguided belief of a grand union conspiracy to coerce workers into joining the union.
While the ABCC alleges officials from other unions were at the meeting, Mr Upton said they were only delegates.
Ms Watson said the two witnesses were not reliable. She said one man was known to be antagonistic towards unions.
This man had not mentioned feeling intimidated in his initial affidavit, and had only claimed to be so 18 months later, in his second report.
Ms Watson said the reliability of the other witness — a union member — was also questionable because he had admitted to not listening to the whole meeting.
The decision was reserved.