Townsville Stadium under construction seen from Castle Hill. Picture: Evan Morgan
Townsville Stadium under construction seen from Castle Hill. Picture: Evan Morgan

Union refutes ‘unlawful, unconscionable’ strike action claim

CONSTRUCTION on the Cowboys home-ground stadium was held up for four days because of a CFMMEU strike over an enterprise agreement, despite workers being offered more pay.

The alleged unlawful industrial action, which took place last month, could see the militant union fined as much as $210,000 and its organiser Grant Harradine slapped with a $42,000 if found guilty.

But the union is strongly refuting the claims and say they will defend against the action.

The stadium has already faced delays of at least a month due to the floods in February, which put back its expected completion date to December this year.

 

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Townsville Stadium under construction seen from Castle Hill. Picture: Evan Morgan
Townsville Stadium under construction seen from Castle Hill. Picture: Evan Morgan

The Australian Building and Construction Commission is taking the CFMMEU to the Federal Court in Brisbane over the alleged strike, claiming it was "unlawful, illegitimate and unconscionable".

Court documents alleged that concreter on the stadium PJ Walsh rebuffed Mr Harradine several times when he attempted to get them to sign a union enterprise agreement.

Mr Harradine is alleged to have approached workers outside the site's sheds in November, holding a copy of the union agreement.

"You need to make your bosses sign this," he said according to court documents.

It escalated to four days of alleged unprotected industrial action from March 11 to March 14 this year.

 

Level 2 Western Stand of the North Queensland Stadium.
Level 2 Western Stand of the North Queensland Stadium.

PJ Walsh boss Patrick Walsh told staff he was close to securing a deal with head contractor Watpac which would get them higher wages.

But the union organiser is alleged to have said he had people "in state parliament telling him different" and that the workers would not get any more money unless the agreement was signed.

CFMMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar said the court case was "an outrageous abuse of legal power for purely base political purposes.

"It is yet another example of this taxpayer-funded Star Chamber protecting bad bosses, while workers are hung out to dry," he said.

 

The QBCC confirmed that PJ Walsh initially had the wrong class of licence, though this was quickly rectified, and it was investigating potential breaches related to unlicensed contracting as a result. Picture: Zak Simmonds
The QBCC confirmed that PJ Walsh initially had the wrong class of licence, though this was quickly rectified, and it was investigating potential breaches related to unlicensed contracting as a result. Picture: Zak Simmonds

 

Mr Ravbar said PJ Walsh was under investigation by the Queensland Building Construction Commission in relation to unlicensed contracting.

The QBCC confirmed that PJ Walsh initially had the wrong class of licence, though this was quickly rectified, and it was investigating potential breaches related to unlicensed contracting as a result.

A spokesman for PJ Walsh said both the company and its works at the stadium are "subject to strict independent quality control and certification".