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In Brief: CFMEU fined over Ravensthorpe strike

THE Federal Court last week ordered the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and two of its organisers, including assistant secretary Joe McDonald, to pay $35,000 in fines following industrial action at BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe nickel project during 2005. The Australian Building and Construction Commission, which initiated the court action, said the orders were made against the CFMEU, CFMEUW, Mr McDonald and organiser Michael Powell. The respondents had earlier admitted to engaging in unlawful industrial action at BHP Billiton’s Ravensthorpe nickel mine construction site in 2005. The union and Mr Powell also admitted to aiding workers to go on strike a week later for 24 hours, in support of a claim for reinstatement of two workers who had been dismissed. “The issues that prompted the strikes should have been resolved by the parties according to the dispute settlement procedure in the certified agreements,” ABC Commissioner John said. “It is highly unacceptable that a 48-hour strike by 400 workers occurred just one week after the agreements were certified. “It is imperative for the Australian economy that large projects in the resources sector are not delayed by unlawful industrial action.” In his decision, Justice Dowsett described the strike action was quite arbitrary. “The absence of any prior negotiations concerning the claims suggests that they may not have been the real, or sole, reason for the strike.”

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