Union­ist ‘ro­peable’ at res­ig­na­tions

Pilbara News - - News - Kim Mac­don­ald

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.

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