CFMEU fight charges against trade union official

27 September 2018 08:10

Jason O’Mara, a branch secretary at the Australian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), has appeared in a preliminary hearing before a Canberra court on criminal charges of alleged cartel conduct. The CFMEU held a rally outside the courthouse in which hundreds of construction workers joined in solidarity with O’Mara.

The CFMEU has vowed to vigorously fight against the charges, which allege O’Mara had attempted to induce steel and scaffolding suppliers into “cartel contracts”, which came about as a result of the so-called Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

O’Mara submitted a not guilty plea. “The union denies it has committed any breaches of consumer and competition laws,” said CFMEU National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan, who is also the BWI Vice President for the BWI Asia-Pacific Region. 

He continued, “The union’s role is to negotiate wages and conditions for workers in the industry. We intend to continue to do our job while vigorously defending our position.”

The alleged conduct occurred in 2013 when O’Mara met with scaffolding companies, demanding they raise their costs to the level contained in the CFMEU’s 2013 enterprise agreement. The charges contain a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for O’Mara, while the union could be fined up to AU$10 million. 

“The BWI thoroughly condemns these charges, which appear to be part of an ongoing politically-motivated attack on unions in the construction sector in Australia,” said BWI Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino.