TWU fined for unlawful industrial action


TWU and officials fined $31,000 for unlawful industrial action against Qantas

July 25, 2011

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) and four of its officials have been fined a total of $31,000 for unlawful industrial action against Qantas in 2009.

Federal Court Justice Michael Moore fined the TWU and its officials after ruling they played a role in organising baggage handlers to engage in unlawful industrial action for about four hours at Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth airports.

The majority of the baggage handlers were TWU members. The unlawful industrial action stemmed from Qantas’s decision to outsource work and concerns over airport security.

Moore found that the industrial action breached workplace relations laws because it was conducted before the Qantas baggage handlers’ enterprise bargaining agreement expired in 2011.

Qantas’s litigation resulted in the Federal Court imposing penalties against a further three TWU officials and the TWU being ordered to pay Qantas compensation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson welcomed the decision and says it is important that workplace laws are adhered to when industrial action is taken.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon labelled the decision "seems like a very hollow victory for Qantas" and he claims the Ombudsman has "delivered a disastrous outcome".

"The FWO has been humiliated. Considering this prosecution was conducted under John Howard’s WorkChoices, five out of six claims were thrown out. Qantas has spent anywhere up to $5 million of shareholders money prosecuting this case, a case aimed entirely at silencing the workforce," Sheldon says.

"And whatever money the TWU is ordered to pay, [Qantas CEO] Alan Joyce should guarantee it goes into children's charities instead of executive bonuses. I think everyone can agree sick kids need the money much more than a Qantas executive."

Sheldon claims Joyce told the union he would cease legal proceedings for damages if it dropped its case against the carrier.


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