Union official ruled ‘abusive’
A union official who threatened to name and shame former union members on toilet doors in a foul-mouthed rant at the Gorgon gas project in the Pilbara has been found guilty of breaching industrial laws.
The Federal Court found union official Brad Upton abused workers in December 2015 after hearing rumours 90 people had quit the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union after it had struck a pay deal with their employers.
The court found Upton and the CFMEU breached three sections of the Fair Work Act, with Justice Michael Barker ruling Upton acted in a threatening, coercive, intimidating and abusive manner.
Justice Barker said he accepted evidence that Upton spoke to about 50 workers from CKJV, Tempo and RCR in a crib room meeting, using words to the effect of: “The f...ing 90 dog c... that resigned from the union the day after we signed the EBA (enterprise bargaining agreement) after we got the conditions we got now, this is a f...ing union site.
“If you don’t f...ing like it, f... off somewhere else. We got you these conditions, we know who you are.
“We are going to put your names on the back of toilet doors.”
Justice Barker said Upton threatened the name-and-shame campaign on toilet doors, but did not agree the official had specifically used the term “standover tactics”, as alleged by witnesses.
Upton had denied most of the allegations, claiming that while he may have sworn he did not speak aggressively and did not breach industrial law.
He claimed he had only raised workers’ suggestions for the name-and-shame campaign, but denied he had made the threat himself. Justice Barker accepted Upton said: “We have other union sites starting up next year and if you’re not in the union, you can f... off too, you’re not welcome.”
Justice Barker said one witness had complained of feeling intimidated, claiming it would have caused him “emotional harm or distress”.
He said it left workers with the impression they had no choice but to join the union.
Upton and the union were found guilty of coercion, improper conduct and adverse action against non-union workers.
Penalties will be handed down at a later date.
Brad Upton at the Federal Court.