One of Australia’s most prominent workers’ unions and its branch secretary have been charged with cartel conduct by federal police.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Rod Sims said that the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) and its ACT divisional branch secretary, Jason O’Mara, “are each charged with attempting to induce suppliers of steelfixing services and scaffolding services to reach cartel contracts, arrangements or understandings”.
The allegations relate to services provided to builders in the territory in 2012 and 2013.
“These charges follow a joint investigation between the ACCC and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) as part of the AFP’s role in coordinating and contributing to the Joint Police Task Force following the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption,” Mr Sims said.
An initial hearing is scheduled to be heard on 27 September this year in the ACT Magistrates Court, but under ACCC rules, any trial will be progressed to either the ACT Supreme Court or the Federal Court of Australia.
Usually the domain of larger companies with considerable market power, cartel conduct is of ongoing concern to the ACCC, which it claims on its website as “immoral and illegal because they not only cheat consumers and other businesses, they also restrict healthy economic growth”.
Earlier this month, a global manufacturer lost its appeal against a conviction and $3.5 million penalty for its role in cartel conduct.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.