CFMEU takes Cole to Federal Court

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CFMEU takes Cole to Federal Court

He added that the union did not consider itself 'perfect' and would be taking measures to drive out the cowboys saying the CFMEU would be 'addressing our own shortcomings over the coming months,' in particular through developing a 'rigorous' policy of appropriate conduct for officials and delegates.

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Federal Court Justice Catherine Branson today began hearing applications from the NSW branch of the construction union to have building industry royal commissioner Justice Terence Cole stopped from hearing any more matters relating to the branch.

Last month, 40 NSW officials and delegates of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union asked Cole to stand down from hearing matters relating to the state branch, saying he had shown bias against the union in his interim report to federal Workplace Relations Minister Tony Abbott.

The NSW branch of the CFMEU said Cole should have consulted with it before releasing adverse findings in the report, which led to the setting up of an interim taskforce, with powers to investigate and police breaches of the Workplace Relations Act (see 239/2002).

Cole failed to disqualify himself, saying his report was not a prejudgement and contained findings of fact. He criticised state secretary Andrew Ferguson for announcing to the media his intention to bring the application, and said his 'campaign' was to influence public opinion against the commission (see 263/2002).

Today and tomorrow have been set aside for hearings.

Union's view of commission proceedings

Meanwhile, federal construction union secretary John Sutton addressed the National Press Club in Canberra late last week about the bias allegations, saying he would pursue the case 'all the way to the High Court' if necessary.

He said one key question had to be answered: 'How can [Cole] justify that his report made 'no findings' nor reached any conclusions, while at the same time he recommends that the Government establish a taskforce?'

To support his argument, he released statistics showing that while 642 employers and employer representatives had given evidence, only 36 workers had taken the stand. 'In all, 97% of hearing time has been spent airing anti-union topics,' he said.

He predicted deregistration was on the cards for 'some or all' of the union after Cole delivered his final report on 6 December but said it would not achieve Abbott's 'agenda' of destroying the union.

'After all, the key building unions making up today's CFMEU, namely BWIU, BLF and FEDFA, have all been subject to periods of deregistration and it hardly killed off the spirit of strong unionism that thrives among our rank and file,' Sutton said.

He added that the union did not consider itself 'perfect' and would be taking measures to drive out the cowboys saying the CFMEU would be 'addressing our own shortcomings over the coming months,' in particular through developing a 'rigorous' policy of appropriate conduct for officials and delegates.

 
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