AWU fined over unlawful industrial action

1 October 2010

The Australian Workers Union NSW branch (AWU NSW) has been fined $12,100 for breaches of workplace laws, including organising unlawful industrial action at an Illawarra worksite last year.

The fine, the result of a prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman, was handed down in the Federal Magistrates Court in Sydney today.

Federal Magistrate Kenneth Raphael imposed the penalty after AWU NSW admitted committing two breaches of workplace laws.

The first breach related to AWU NSW organising employees of Boral Resources (NSW) Pty Ltd to engage in unlawful industrial action at the company’s Dunmore quarry site on February 13 and 16 last year.

Federal Magistrate Raphael said the industrial action resulted in significant disruption of Boral’s activities, including 5552 tonnes of lost production over the two days.

The industrial action was conducted in relation to AWU NSW’s objection to what it considered to be the practice of Boral supervisors carrying out work usually performed by Boral employees.

The industrial action was unlawful because it was conducted before the Boral employees’ collective agreement expired.

The second breach related to AWU NSW trying to coerce Boral into paying employees for time they spent engaging in a lawful strike at the Dunmore quarry site on June 30 last year.

Federal Magistrate Raphael said there was a need to impose a penalty that discouraged AWU NSW from repeating such breaches.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director of Complex Investigations Karsten Lehn says the Court has sent a clear message that laws regarding how industrial action can be lawfully conducted must be adhered to.

Legal action against the AWU and AWU officials who were initially respondents to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s prosecution was discontinued after negotiations.

The negotiations included an AWU official completing a training course on industrial action and the rights and responsibilities of entry permit holders under the Fair Work Act.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. For translations, call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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