A union organiser screamed in the face of a Workplace Health and Safety inspector at a worksite, leaving him fearing for his safety.
A union organiser screamed in the face of a Workplace Health and Safety inspector at a worksite, leaving him fearing for his safety.

‘You’re a f--ing dog’: Union boss sentenced for intimidation

A UNION organiser who yelled in the face of a Workplace Health and Safety inspector on a Cairns worksite will have to cough up more than $12,000 in fines and costs after being found guilty of intimidation.

Roland Cummins, 33, launched the vicious attack on inspector Robert Duckworth at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre worksite in April 2018, leaning towards his face and screaming 'you're a f---ing dog, Duckworth!'.

Father-of-two Cummins, an organiser for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, better known in the Far North Queensland union movement as Rolly, was found guilty in the Cairns Magistrates Court of intimidating an inspector following a trial.

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"Mr Cummins took a couple of steps toward me," Mr Duckworth said, during the hearing in December last year.

"He leaned his face 2-3 inches from my face and he screamed 'you're a f---ing dog, Duckworth!' This was repeated three times."

Magistrate Catherine Benson handed him a $5000 fine for the incident on Thursday, but also ordered him to pay the legal costs of Workplace Health and Safety who prosecuted the case, which amounted to more than $7200.

The hearing heard the incident occurred during a WHS inspection of the site where union officials were showing Mr Duckworth areas of concern, including apparent asbestos fragments in the CPAC carpark and evacuation plans that were not current with the progress of construction.

Cummins leading a rally outside the Spence Street Admin Building of Cairns Regional Council over wages. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN
Cummins leading a rally outside the Spence Street Admin Building of Cairns Regional Council over wages. PICTURE: STEWART MCLEAN

The court was told Mr Cummins was worried that workers had not been entered on a register of asbestos exposure.

Mr Duckworth told the court that union officials became "fixated" by the evacuation plans. The verbal assault occurred soon after Mr Duckworth told the court he was in "complete shock".

"I feared for my safety, he appeared to have lost self control," he said

Cummins had argued during the hearing that he was provoked, saying that Mr Duckworth had become angry at interjections by union officials, and was "disinterested" in Cummins' concerns that workers were exposed to asbestos in the car park. Magistrate Benson said she did not accept there was provocation, but Cummins had become frustrated over a period of time. "It was a brief incident where you shouted at him while your face was close to his face," she said. "This is your first offence and I therefore accept this is behaviour out of character for you."

The prosecution had argued for a conviction to be recorded, but Magistrate Benson elected not to given this was his first offence and that it may impact his union organiser position.

Originally published as 'You're a f--ing dog': Union boss sentenced for intimidation



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