The Federal Court has handed down a record payout against the Maritime Union of Australia for breaching the Fair Work Act after the union was found to have deliberately acted to prevent a Perth couple from gaining employment with a maritime labour hire company on the basis that they were not union members.
The Fair Work Ombudsman launched proceedings against the MUA and Offshore Marine Services after the couple were told that they would need to join the union if they wanted jobs at the company – in direct contradiction to Fair Work Act.
Justice John Gilmour found that the MUA’s conduct “involved its blatant use of illegitimate industrial action power to bully OMS” into refusing to employ the couple.
Justice Gilmour found that the MUA’s actions deprived the couple of the opportunity to gain well-paid employment “at a critical time of their lives” and that OMS “succumbed” to union threats of industrial action, even though it wanted to employ the couple.
Minister for Employment Senator Eric Abetz said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and comes from union bosses who proudly boast that ‘laws need to be broken’.
“It’s time that Bill Shorten and Labor distance themselves from these militant union bosses who have engaged in this unlawful conduct.
“This is also a salutary lesson to employers who either willingly or through intimidation engage in this type of illegal behaviour in cahoots with a union.
“This important decision is a welcome showing of support for the honest worker over the militant union boss.”