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Industrial fight might delay $400m wind farm project  

Credit:  Matt Johnston | Herald Sun | April 09, 2014 | www.heraldsun.com.au ~~

A bitter industrial battle that has caused costly delays to a $400 million wind farm is threatening to boil over amid allegations of assault and intimidation.

Construction union the CFMEU has vowed to wage “peaceful protests” against Bald Hills Wind Farm management, after a Federal Court order stopped it from blockading the South Gippsland site.

Fair Work Building and Construction won the order earlier this month, forcing the union to allow suppliers access to the site.

Probes into allegations of coercion and of union interference at the site are ongoing, and it is understood FWBC investigators have reported intimidation by the CFMEU.

The unrest comes as the royal commission into the governance and corruption of trade unions – which includes the CFMEU and the Australian Workers Union – started in Sydney on Wednesday.

It is alleged the union blockaded the 52-turbine site near Inverloch on February 18, and on three days in March.

Several sources say the turf war over union jobs at Bald Hills is the source of most problems, after the CFMEU took issue with a deal struck between the AWU and a major contractor.

But CFMEU official Gareth Stephenson denied it was a demarcation dispute.

He raised concerns about entitlements and employees being stood down, including one who was the alleged victim of an assault.

He said the union would allow access to suppliers but other action was possible.

“Until our efforts have resulted in management coming to the table in order to responsibly address our concerns then we will continue to pursue any avenues available to us including peaceful protests and communication with our members,” he said.

Bald Hills Wind Farm general manager Matthew Croome said good progress was being made on the project and the company was happy with its safety record on site.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said blockade allegations were concerning, and he hit out at Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee for being a CFMEU member.

“If Labor is concerned about jobs in regional Victoria, Brian Tee and (Opposition Leader) Daniel Andrews should ring up their union mates at the militant CFMEU and get them to stop industrial action,” he said.

Opposition spokesman Chris Reilly said Mr Guy was being desperate.

Source:  Matt Johnston | Herald Sun | April 09, 2014 | www.heraldsun.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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