Published: 22 Jan 2016
Ask yourself this; would you expect to be charged without any evidence against you? The case before the Federal Court in Perth against 101 workers charged with attending a union meeting has descended into a complete farce according to Mick Buchan, Secretary of the CFMEU WA Construction Branch.
Just prior to Christmas, 5 workers had their cases withdrawn due to ‘lack of evidence.' Now that number has increased by a further 28 cases to a total of 33, presumably also due to lack of evidence. No apology or explanation has been offered by either Nigel Hadgkiss or his lawyers.‘
'These charges should never have been laid. You would think in a just society that before anyone was charged with anything the Fair Work Building Commission (FWBC) would have their evidence and facts in the bag. This is obviously not the situation and we call for all charges to be dismissed and to have the remaining cases dropped. It's a farce and an embarrassment to the Federal Government." said Mick Buchan.
The workers were charged with allegedly attending a union meeting outside the new Perth Children's Hospital, a meeting at which the workers were informed and invited to discuss a whole range of pertinent issues affecting them and their industry. The workers were charged 2 years after the meeting took place, then had to go through a further 8 months of hell dealing with lawyers and being dragged through the courts.
Some of the workers charged were from the St John of God Hospital projects which were being built at the time in Midland and Murdoch. Neither of these two projects suffered any disruption to their completion deadline as a result of the workers' meeting. The construction phase of both projects were completed on time and on budget.
According to Mick Buchan these workers and their families suffered a stressful Christmas period worried about their future.
"What we have here is a personal witch hunt orchestrated by Nigel Hadgkiss, head of the FWBC, and the federal government to manufacture dissent against our union to be used as propaganda to push the Government's anti-union agenda, especially to the cross benches in the senate as they consider the reintroduction of the ABCC. These charges have all the hallmarks of a politically motivated ‘round them up at any cost' mentality.
"I call on Mr. Hadgkiss and the Minister Michaelia Cash to explain to the these workers why they were ever charged in the first place despite the obvious lack of evidence and why all the remaining charges should not be dropped." Mick Buchan said.