CFMMEU officials accused of abusing site supervisors and disregarding health and safety directions on Adelaide building site

Australian Building and Construction Commission

The ABCC has commenced proceedings alleging that CFMMEU officials abused site staff and ignored lawful health and safety directions whilst exercising their rights of entry at the $123 million construction upgrade to Yatala Labour Prison in Northfield SA.

The alleged contraventions involve CFMMEU officials Wyatt Raymount, Alexandria Russell, Travis Brook and Desmond Savage, and occurred over 3 days in August and September 2021.

The ABCC alleges that whilst exercising their rights of entry, the officials engaged in abusive, derogatory and offensive behaviour, and a number of them forced their way into exclusion zones when directed not to.

The ABCC alleges:

  • On 30 August 2021, Ms Russell, Mr Raymount and Mr Brook conducted a site walk when Ms Russell and Mr Raymount became abusive towards the health, safety and environment manager, saying words to the effect of:

Raymount: [name] you are f**king useless at your job, I can’t believe you call yourself a professional, you should be ashamed.

Russell: Completely f**king useless, you are going to kill someone.

Russell: Seriously aren’t you ashamed? It’s amazing how useless you are.

Raymount: How can you get up every morning and do a sh*t job? Aren’t you ashamed?

  • Mr Raymount and Ms Russell directed offensive and derogatory statements to the Safety Supervisor and Site Manager.
  • During the site walk Ms Russell removed a safety barrier to enter an exclusion zone without authorisation.
  • Ms Russell refused to leave the exclusion zone when directed, despite being told that she was putting herself at risk. When Ms Russell eventually left the zone, she then re-entered at another point and stood on the edge of a concrete storm water pit which was in a confined space.
  • The following day, Mr Raymount and Mr Brook disrupted a concrete pour by raising a safety concern, which the site engineer rectified immediately. Mr Brook then proceeded to stand close to the site engineer before raising his arms and stating aggressively:

I hope to God that something goes drastically wrong and gets people seriously hurt, I really do. Then we can take [the contactor] to the cleaners in court and you might learn your lesson.

  • On 2 September 2021, Mr Savage threatened the safety supervisor by saying “The more you call your mates, the more I’ll come down on you”. It is alleged that “your mates” was a reference to ABCC inspectors.
  • That same morning Mr Raymount approached the safety supervisor’s car and stated that he would “get in trouble” and be subject to a “personal fine” if a complaint was made. He also used foul language to intimidate the supervisor.

The ABCC further alleges the CFMMEU is liable for the conduct of its officials.

The ABCC is seeking personal payment orders against all four union officials. Such an order would require Court imposed penalties to be paid personally by the officers and not paid or reimbursed directly or indirectly by the CFMMEU or through crowd funding.

The maximum penalty for each contravention of the Fair Work Act 2009 is $66,600 for a body corporate and $13,320 for an individual.

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