CFMEU calls on AFP to drop charge against organiser John Lomax
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is calling on the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to drop a charge laid against a CFMEU organiser for doing nothing more than advocating higher wages for the Union’s members.
ACT based construction organiser John Lomax has been charged over an Enterprise Agreement negotiated between the CFMEU and Canberra painting company Nel Trading and its principal, Woong Yul Park.
The AFP “Statement of Facts” on the case states that the CFMEU’s primary role is “to negotiate and secure improvements in working conditions and wages as well as ensure safe practices are abided by.”
CFMEU Construction Division National Secretary Dave Noonan said police had totally over reacted by charging Mr Lomax with blackmail in relation to what was, after all, a normal enterprise agreement.
Mr Noonan said the charge against Mr Lomax was denied and would be vigorously defended.
“Achieving a pay rise for workers is not blackmail,” Mr Noonan said. “Unions are there to get better wages and conditions for members and that is what Mr Lomax has done,” he said.
“It seems that in the eyes of Tony Abbott’s Trade Union Royal Commission, asking for a pay rise is a crime.” Mr Noonan said the Enterprise Agreement, struck in March 2014, had not resulted in any financial gain to Mr Lomax and there was no evidence to substantiate the charge.
“We are fully prepared to stand by our organiser, John Lomax and assist him to have this malicious charge dismissed, as we expect it will be when the matter comes before the ACT Magistrates Court. Mr Noonan said that in 2013 Nel Trading had paid workers thousands of dollars in backpay after they appealed for help from the CFMEU because they were being underpaid.
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