Grocon to sue union over blockade of Melbourne building projects

Grocon has reportedly launched a $10.5 million claim against the Victorian construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) over its blockade at four Melbourne construction sites in August and September.

The figure is higher than the $5 million to $7 million Grocon boss Daniel Grollo said the strikes would cost the property development and construction group.

A spokesperson for the  Victorian Supreme Court said the statement of claim had not yet been filed. 

Mr M McDonald SC with MrR P WheelaHAN appeared on behalf of the Plaintiffs, Grocon.

Mr P Morrissey SC with Ms R Shann appeared on behalf of the union.

Mr S Wood SC with Mr J Snaden and Mr B Jellis appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.

A two-day hearing of Grocon contempt of court action against the CFMEU was due to begin today in the Victorian Supreme Court today alleging the union breached two injunctions ordering the blockade to stop.

This morning the Victorian Supreme Court tweeted: "CFMEU now has counsel, sought adjournment late yesterday, granted, plan to plead not guilty, Grocon matter will now be heard next Wednesday".

The epicentre of the dispute was the $1.2 billion Myer Emporium development in the Melbourne CBD.

The blockade lasted for 16 days and was lifted on September 7 when both parties agreed to enter into private negotiations through Fair Work Australia.

A report in the Australian Financial Review cited industry and union sources as saying rumours were rife that the negotiations might have broken down but a spokesperson for Grocon said it was "still very open to the talks continuing”.

A 139-page statement of claim has been filed against the union and alleges that a number of contractors were pressured not to continue working on four Grocon sites.

Dave Noonan, national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, said the union would “vigorously defend” itself against the claim.

The statement of claim notes the Victorian CFMEU’s construction division had net assets of $46 million at the end of the 2011.

According to the AFR, union accounts show about $4.7 million is tied up in investment properties and $25.4 million in property, plant and equipment.

National accounts show the union’s primary property asset is its 276 Pitt Street in Sydney, which was valued at $3.35 million as of February 2009.

The Pitt Street property is the headquarters for the union’s construction and general division.

National accounts show the union made a loss of $62,878 in the 2011 financial year following a loss of $587,607 in the 2010 financial year.

Nationally, the CFMEU has just under 71,000 members and earned revenue of $3.94 million in 2011, with most of this earned from union fees.

 

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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