a million dollars. That's right, almost a million dollars.
The fines are for breaches of workplace laws, for things like threatening to walk off the job unless the union's flag is affixed to a crane and for entering a workplace without permission when permission was required. They claim the latter was to "collect asbestos reports" which would, presumably, be concerned with worker safety.
I don't know what will happen next. It's a powerful union. It may well appeal or try to bring on more industrial action - and in ways that others can do little about. '
But why should the union's flag be flown on a building site belonging to someone else? Is it simply that they want to boast about their presence there? And why didn't they simply ask for the reports? If they weren't given them then they could have got an almost immediate order for access to them.
It's all about power of course. Unions are used to dictating and they want to go on doing so. They don't want to relinquish any of the power they once had. There are still plenty of building sites where the "no ticket, no work" rule applies even though it is no longer "compulsory".
And of course union officials will claim that they are acting in the best interests of their members.
I think that's what bothers me though. How is it that unions have the sort of money available which would, potentially, enable them to pay such a large fine? How can they pay it and all the legal fees they must have incurred? Why is it that their members apparently accept all this? Where is the money for the inevitable election campaign advertising come from? Are such things really for the direct benefit of those the union represents? If they have so much money why do they need government grants to run "training" programmes?
I am nervous of unions now. I remember that union car with "Your rights at work" on the side driving off after I was threatened by - presumably - two union members who told me that they didn't like the letter I had written to the editor about the way the unions had abused their considerable power. Apparently those two men had nothing better to do on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning.
I would have been happier if they had really been running a weekend training course for some of their members. Isn't that the sort of thing they should be spending money on?