Union of­fi­cial ruled ‘abu­sive’

Pilbara News - - News - Kim Macdon­ald

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.

Pic­ture: Steve Fer­rier

Brad Up­ton at the Fed­eral Court.

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