Reports say the workplace watchdog has dropped 30 per cent of cases against the CFMEU.

Questions have been asked about the treatment of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) by the Fair Work Ombudsman's (FWO). 

The FWO has reportedly not initiated any new legal actions against the CFMEU for the past 18 months and has discontinued or partially discontinued about 30 per cent of the existing cases it inherited after the Albanese government dissolved the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in 2022. 

Out of the 41 cases transferred to the FWO, 12 have seen no further action.

Despite no new cases being filed against the CFMEU, the FWO has launched several cases against construction employers within the same period. 

This shift in focus has raised questions within the industry, especially given allegations of the union's practices, including enforcing a “no ticket no start” policy and forcibly removing non-CFMEU subcontractors from worksites.

Builders have voiced concerns over rising project costs attributed to disruptions allegedly caused by the CFMEU. 

The construction sector is already grappling with climbing wages and escalating prices of building materials, factors compounded by the alleged union activities that have led to financial strains on numerous builders, particularly in the residential sector.

A notable point of contention is the recent settlement of a case involving the CFMEU, where a union official was accused of intimidating a manager by threatening to “grab my bat and start swinging it” if non-preferred subcontractors were used on a Queensland government project. 

This settlement, described by Federal Circuit Court judge Salvatore Vasta as “bizarre”, was reached unexpectedly after a full trial and while the judge was preparing his verdict. 

The FWO's decision to settle has been criticised for potentially showing leniency towards the union, with the Civil Contractors Federation and opposition figures demanding clearer explanations from the FWO.

Amid the legal and operational challenges, the CFMEU is also facing public scrutiny over wage demands in Brisbane. 

Workers have staged walkouts at several construction sites, including the Cross River Rail project, demanding significant pay raises. 

The CFMEU is pushing for entry-level construction workers to receive salaries as high as $240,000 annually.