Boral wins union blockade dispute

By Chris Sleight18 September 2015

Mike Kane, CEO of Boral.

Mike Kane, CEO of Boral.

Australian materials producer Boral has won a settlement up to a maximum of AU$ 9 million (US$ 6.5 million) against the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Australia’s largest construction trade union. The ruling by the Victorian Supreme Court follows a ‘black ban’ – an illegal boycott – of Boral products by the CFMEU in Melbourne.

In addition to the financial settlement, which comprises AU$ 4 million (US$ 2.9 million) in damages and up to AU$ 5 million (US$ 3.6 million) for legal expenses, the ruling includes a series of legally binding controls which Boral says will “prohibit [CFMEU] interference with Boral’s business for a period of three years.”

The CFMEU is obliged to publish a statement saying construction businesses are free to choose their suppliers, including concrete suppliers, without fear of union retribution. The non-interference agreement prohibits union members from advising in any way on the procurement of Boral materials, refusing to work in cases when they would normally work, or interfering with the supply of materials to construction sites.

Boral CEO Mike Kane said, “This agreement is a huge step in the multi-year effort to re-establish the rule of law on Melbourne construction sites. We will now be protected against illegal interference in serving our customers.”

However, a statement from the CFMEU on the ruling sounded a defiant tone. “This result is a humiliation for Mike Kane. Boral has claimed losses of over AU$ 23 million [US$ 16.5 million], yet the matter has been settled for $4 million [US$ 2.9 million]. Mr Kane’s ideological campaign against the union has been damaging Boral’s reputation for that entire time."

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