By Simon Stokes
CFMEU Construction & General WA
High profile Perth builder Gerry Hanssen, his company Hanssen Pty Ltd, and a former employee were today fined a total of $89,000 in the Federal Circuit Court for a further 16 wilful breaches of the law in Perth on the 16th April last year.
Gerry Hanssen and his employee prevented two duly authorised CFMEU officials entry to a Hanssen building site to investigate suspected safety breaches.
This is on top of two previous sets of fines for similar offence handed down already this year. It brings the total of penalties to Gerry Hanssen, his company, and his employees to more than $200,000 for stopping safety inspections on his sites.
CFMEU Construction and General State Secretary Mick Buchan has expressed his frustration at the fact that such a regular offender is simply allowed to continue opperating in the WA construction industry.
“This pattern of refusal to adhere to safety and industrial laws is starting to get ridiculous. How long can one builder show wilful contempt for the law and the safety of workers and the public and still be allowed to carry on operating in our State.”
“Hanssen is a blight on the construction industry. Gerry Hanssen boasts about using less skilled, less competent labour. He hires tourists and backpackers in preference to career professionals to cut labour costs. He cuts corners on safety and then refuses entry for safety inspections. And it has cost people their lives.”
The Federal Circuit Court Judge McNab said that the contraventions were a “deliberate policy of Mr Hanssen” and that the Union is “entitled to bring the action in order to support the rights they have as a Union and the rights their officials have as permit holders“.
Hanssen Pty Ltd has also previously been fined the largest ever single amount in Western Australia of $174,000 for breaching the Workplace Relations Act in a “deliberate exploitation” of Filipino and Irish migrant workers over his persistent and preferential use of cheap, exploited overseas workers.
Worksafe are also currently prosecuting Hanssen Pty Ltd for safety failures in relation to the death of German backpacker Marianka Heumann, who in 2016 fell 13 floors to her death down an open lift shaft.
Mich Buchan spoke of Marianka’s death at an impromptu memorial service held yesterday at the Concerto Appartment building on Adelaide Terrace in Perth, where Marianka was killed.
“It’s ridiculous that this even has to be said, but a construction site is no place for a tourist.” Mr Buchan exclaimed.
“It’s no comfort that we now have proposed Industrial Manslaughter laws in WA enabling directors to be prosecuted for killing workers. That comes too late to help Marianka Heumann and her family.”
“But the CFMEU will keep doing everything we can to make sure builders who break the law and risk workers lives are held to account, including taking them to court if we have to.”
“I hope Mr Hanssen finally understands that he isn’t above the law. But I won’t hold my breath.”