TWU in hot water over industrial action

TWU hauled before court after allegedly committing unlawful industrial action against McColl's Transport

By Brad Gardner | January 22, 2010

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) will face court over claims it committed unlawful industrial action against McColl’s Transport.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claims the union and its representative, Neale Harper, breached workplace laws after conducting the action in protest of the dismissal of a McColl’s employee who was also a TWU member.

According to the Ombudsman, the full-day strike on February 16 at the company’s depot in western Sydney was illegal because it occurred before the expiry of an enterprise bargaining agreement for McColl’s transport employees.

While the union faces a maximum fine of $33,000, Harper may also be slapped with a $6600 bill for his actions.

"It is alleged that Mr Harper breached workplace laws by failing to return his permit to enter and inspect premises within 14 days of it expiring in 2008," the workplace watchdog says in a statement.

The case is due to be heard in Sydney’s Federal Magistrates Court on February 2.

While the agency’s executive director of investigations, Karsten Lehn, claims the laws governing industrial action had not been followed, the TWU argues McColl’s is at fault.

The NSW TWU Secretary, Wayne Forno, alleges the operator breached the enterprise agreement by not implementing a dispute resolution process before sacking the worker.

"But once again, the Fair Work Ombudsman goes straight after the official and the union – even though we were working hard to resolve a genuine issue for the employees," Forno says.

Forno accused the Ombudsman of still operating according to industrial relations laws introduced by the Howard Government.

"This another example of the Fair Work Ombudsman doing its best to look after employees under the old WorkChoices Act – they are living in the past and still think the boss is always right," he says.

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