From threats and intimidation, to calling workers bimbos, scabs and much worse, the building watchdog has had plenty to work with as it pursued the lawbreaking union.
The CFMEU has been hit with more $16 million in fines since the ABCC was created.  Peter Braig
Continual lawbreaking and misconduct by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union has resulted in the Australian Building and Construction Commission raking in $16.1 million in penalties from cases against the group since the watchdog’s inception in 2016.
These cases, outlined below, have included findings that CFMEU officials physically and verbally threatened workers, made homophobic and sexist slurs, and intimidated people with comments ranging from “[I’ll] grab my bat and start swinging it around” to “Get f—ed you c–t”.
Other transgressions include shouting “daddy’s girl” and “blonde bimbo” at a female worker in Adelaide in 2020 and posting a strike-breaker’s photograph on Facebook in a move a judge said was a modern-day equivalent to placing a person in the stocks to face abuse and assault.
The Albanese government has pledged to abolish the watchdog, however, and reallocate its work to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
These are some of the most significant findings against the CFMEU that were triggered by ABCC investigations.
The ABCC launches a case against the union and one of its officials, Arron Platt, over allegations he threatened and verbally abused the managers of a Woolworths distribution centre in March, with comments such as “Get f—ed you c–t” and “This is a small industry, I can make your life hard”. The CFMEU and Platt have not yet responded to the case, which is ongoing.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Salvatore Vasta fines the CFMEU the maximum $151,200 for behaviour on Queensland’s $5.4 billion Cross River Rail project, warning it would “still be insufficient to deter the [CFMEU] who will … regard such a sum as ‘chump change’”.
Vasta finds CFMEU officials aggressively confronted CPB’s senior supervisor, blocked a truck, refused requests to leave the area and used homophobic slurs against a safety adviser by calling him “a pumpkin eater” and suggesting he was trying to look at their genitals while in the toilet block.
The Fair Work Commission suspends CFMEU official Luke Gibson’s permit to enter work sites for five months because he had sworn at workers, asked them to fight him and engaged in “blatant flouting” of safety rules on a $6 million apartment project on the Gold Coast.
CFMEU Queensland organiser Luke Gibson referred to a site safety supervisor as “Pete, Pete, pumpkin eater”, the court found. 
The commission hears that when Gibson was asked to move away, he called workers “weak c—s” and asked them to “hit me. F—ing hit me. Come on, f—ing hit me”, in a move the judge said was not “in any way” the result of workplace concerns.
The Federal Circuit Court fines the union $486,500 for an unlawful blockade where its officials called workers “filthy dogs” and “f—ing scabs”. The court found the union sought to coerce concreting company and Boral subsidiary De Martin and Gasparini by preventing trucks and workers from accessing Sydney’s Barangaroo site unless it signed a union agreement.
The Federal Court fines the CFMEU a record $840,000 for threatening unlawful strikes at Brisbane construction sites, with the judge declaring the time for the union to stop its lawbreaking had “well and truly passed”.
The ABCC launches a Federal Court case against CFMEU officials in Victoria alleging they engaged in “unconscionable” conduct by filing 400 entry notices across nine projects worked by Melbourne builder Ironside Construction from March to June last year.
The watchdog also accuses the union of shutting off power, blocking trucks, trying to shirt-front a manager and accessing a site manager’s computer and taking photos of his emails without permission. The case is ongoing and the CFMEU is defending itself against the allegations.
The ABCC launches a Federal Court case against a CFMEU official for allegedly “improper” conduct on a Brisbane construction site, including threatening to “grab my bat and start swinging it around” if a senior project manager did not use union-preferred subcontractors on a state infrastructure project. The case is ongoing and the CFMEU is defending itself against the allegations.
As part of a Federal Court case against the union, a CFMEU official is accused of elbowing a female safety manager and elbowing her aside as he disrupted a large freeway project in Victoria. The CFMEU is defending itself against the allegations.
The ABCC launches a court case against the CFMEU for allegedly making death threats against workers who tried to cross a picket line in Fremantle. The statement of claim alleged that union members yelled “scab” and “dog” and “you’ll end up dead if you keep going like this”. The case is ongoing and the CFMEU is defending itself against the allegations.
The Fair Work Commission bans CFMEU organiser Blake Hynes from entering workplaces after he called a manager a “f—ing dog c–t” and threatening to sue him. The Federal Circuit Court also fined him $4400.
CFMEU Queensland state secretary Michael Ravbar. 
The powerful head of the Queensland CFMEU, Michael Ravbar, loses his right to enter worksites after the ABCC told the Fair Work Commission that he should be denied a permit because he had presided over “a history of defiance of industrial laws”. The move – which involved Ravbar dropping his attempt to gain a permit – meant almost the entire CFMEU leadership had lost their entry permits.
The Federal Court fines the CFMEU more than $382,000 for threats and intimidation including posting a strike-breaker’s photo on Facebook, with the judge slamming its conduct as “vengeful” and the equivalent to placing a person in the stocks to face abuse and assault.
The union published the employee’s photograph on its Facebook page with a definition of the word “scab”, and the worker was pilloried with comments and references to “grubs”, “leeches”, “maggots”, “dogs” and worse.
The CFMEU and four of its senior officials – Michael Greenfield, Rita Mallia, Rob Kera and Darren Greenfield – are fined a near-record $1.2 million by the Federal Court for coercing a Sydney crane company through an unlawful picket line and intimidating staff. Kera allegedly told staff they would “fight to the death” to reinstate the delegate, while Michael Greenfield threatened action against the company unless it did so and others intimidated workers by chanting and shouting. The CFMEU is appealing against the severity of the fine.
CFMEU officials Darren Greenfield and Michael Greenfield leaving a Sydney court in 2021. Rhett Wyman
The Fair Work Commission bans two Queensland CFMEU organisers, Arturo Menon and Paul Taylor, from entering worksites for four and six months each (a step up from the previous standard of three months) because they showed no regrets for threatening and intimidating the head contractor at a building site. It found the two officials told builder Sitzler it would “pay the price” if it did not shut down a $30 million Northern Territory police station project over safety concerns.
The Federal Circuit Court fines 64 CFMEU members a combined $112,000 for striking in protest against a builder that took down union flags on site. The workers had downed tools for a day on September 11, 2018, after voicing concerns at a union meeting about the removal of union flags, people working on rostered days off and issues with the workplace’s safety officer.
The ABCC accuses a CFMEU official of allegedly called a female safety adviser a “f—ing dog c–t” and then barked at her while blocking a concrete pour at a Gold Coast apartment project.
It also accuses him of, when asked by some concrete pourers to move, saying “hit me. F—ing hit me. Come on, f—ing hit me, you weak c—s.” The allegations were part of a case accusing the CFMEU of unlawfully entering RawCorp’s $6 million apartment site at Labrador and physically blocking concrete trucks and delaying pours for hours.
The CFMEU is fined $384,000 over findings that its SA boss, Andrew Sutherland, and three officials “unlawfully picketed” a $27 million Adelaide apartment project. The protesters shouted “grubby-grub-grub” and “pay your bills”, and yelled “daddy’s girl” and “blonde bimbo” to a female employee.
The Federal Court fines CFMEU head Richard Hassett and the union $137,000 because he put workers’ safety at risk by repeatedly climbing into a crane cabin while it was operating, then telling a site manager to “get f—ed” when he was asked for proof he was authorised to do so.
Former CFMEU Queensland president Dave Hanna leaving a Brisbane court in 2017. AAP
The Federal Circuit Court hits former Queensland CFMEU president David Hanna (who is now in jail for rape and corruption) with a $10,200 penalty for breaching right of entry laws in Brisbane.
It found he threatened a site manager who tried to turn him away, giving him the finger, squirting water at him, and saying:“Take that phone away or I’ll f—ing bury it down your throat.”
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