13 September 2019
Some recent media reports suggested that the Registered Organisations Commission’s (ROC) Federal Court proceedings against Mr Cesar Melhem, the former Victorian Branch Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), have come to an end. This is incorrect.
The proceedings against Mr Melhem remain current. While the liability phase of the trial has been resolved following extensive admissions of liability by Mr Melhem to a range of serious contraventions of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009, the next phase of the trial will now continue against Mr Melhem.
This penalty phase of the hearing will be heard by the Federal Court in Melbourne on Tuesday 24 September 2019. It will involve consideration by the Court of findings and appropriate penalties against Mr Melhem relating to the admitted contraventions and agreed facts.
A Federal Court penalty hearing arising out of the admissions, and facts agreed, by the AWU is yet to be listed by the Court.
The Trade Union Royal Commission (TURC) referred 10 matters relating to conduct involving Mr Melhem and the AWU to the Fair Work Commission. These were later transferred to the ROC upon its establishment. The ROC independently continued the investigation of the referrals and commenced proceedings in respect of nine of the referred matters.
The admissions made by Mr Melhem and the AWU include conduct in relation to each of the nine matters referred by the TURC and included by the ROC in the Court proceedings.
Further, the ROC has also secured admissions of liability from the AWU and Mr Melhem in respect of other contraventions identified by the ROC in its investigation that were not the subject of a referral from the TURC.
These admissions made collectively by the AWU and Mr Melhem have avoided the need for a contested hearing on the liability aspects of the trial.
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