ACCC takes civil action against CFMMEU and construction giant Hutchinson

ACCC takes civil action against CFMMEU and construction giant Hutchinson
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted Federal Court civil proceedings against construction company J Hutchinson Pty Ltd and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

The proceedings were raised over alleged boycott conduct at a building site in Brisbane, following an agreement in 2016 between the CFMMEU and Hutchinson, one of Australia’s biggest privately owned construction companies.

According to a document lodged to the Federal Court, Hutchinson allegedly agreed to terminate the contract of an independent waterproofing subcontractor working on the Southpoint A Apartments construction project in south Brisbane.

The ACCC alleges that Hutchinson terminated the subcontractor to avoid conflict with, or industrial action by, the CFMMEU at the site as the waterproofing subcontractor was not covered by an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU.

Hutchinson contravened sections 45E and 45EA of the Competition and Consumer Act, which prohibit contracts, arrangements or understandings for the purpose of preventing or hindering the acquisition of goods or services from a supplier, according to the ACCC.

“Tackling anti-competitive conduct in the construction industry is a priority for the ACCC, and this includes boycotts like the one alleged to have taken place here,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said.

“Boycotts are extremely detrimental to competitive markets and the economy, and can do great damage to those businesses targeted. Given this, we will take action to detect and deter such conduct whenever we can.”

The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, orders for findings of fact, compliance training and, against the CFMMEU only, adverse publicity orders.

Editor's Picks