Workers protesting outside Glencore's Oaky North mine.
Workers protesting outside Glencore's Oaky North mine.

CFMMEU officials face court over alleged abuse at CQ mine

Five mining union officials will face Federal Court over alleged abusive conduct at a Central Queensland mine.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched legal action against the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union of Australia.

The ombudsman alleged breaches of workplace laws occurred at the Oaky North underground coal mine, northwest of Emerald, between July 2017 and December 2017.

It is alleged that the CFMMEU and each of the five officials contravened the Fair Work Act by engaging in, encouraging, inciting, directing or authorising abusive conduct that amounted to adverse action and coercion during an industrial dispute at the mine.

During the dispute, CFMMEU members at the mine took protected industrial action, including stoppages of work, and in response, the mine operator locked members out of the mine.

The ombudsman alleges the conduct of the union and the five officials included verbal abuse of the workers on their way to and from work each day, social media abuse of the workers and erecting signs along the road approaching the mine naming certain workers as "scabs".

A message left for workers who weren’t locked out of Glencore's Oaky North Mine.
A message left for workers who weren’t locked out of Glencore's Oaky North Mine.

The five officials facing court are CFMMEU mining and energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth, district vice president Chris Brodsky, Broadmeadow Mine lodge assistant secretary Brodie Brunker, divisional branch assistant secretary Jade Ingham and delegate Blake Hynes.

The ombudsman is seeking penalties against the CFMMEU and each of the five officials for multiple alleged contraventions of the Fair Work Act.

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The CFMMEU faces maximum penalties of up to $63,000 per contravention.

The officials each face maximum penalties of up to $12,600 per contravention. 

The union intends to defend the charges. 

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said all workers had a lawful right to exercise their right not to participate in the activities of a union.

"The Fair Work Ombudsman is prepared to take legal action to uphold the provisions of the Fair Work Act that protect freedom of association by ensuring that employees are free to participate, or not participate, in industrial activity," Ms Parker said.

"Any workers with concerns about freedom of association should contact us for free assistance. "


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