Trucking operator in the wrong on redundancy

Industrial umpire orders Metropolitan Express Transport Service to compensate former employee for making her redundant

By Brad Gardner | April 3, 2012

Victorian-based Metropolitan Express Transport Service has been ordered to compensate a former employee made redundant because she was not consulted before a decision was made.

Fair Work Australia awarded Joanne Wojcik compensation of 10 weeks of ordinary pay after she was called to a meeting and told she was no longer needed.

Fair Work Australia Deputy President Greg Smith ruled that the company did not comply with its enterprise agreement requiring it to consult employees on major workplace changes.

Wojcik was handed a pre-prepared and dated letter along with a severance payment upon being notified of her redundancy, which Smith says came as a complete surprise to her.

"Given the state of the evidence, I find that METS did not consult, or seek to consult, in accordance with the agreement and therefore the termination of employment cannot be regarded as a genuine redundancy," he says.

"In all the circumstances I find that the termination of Ms Wosjcik’s employment was harsh, unjust and unreasonable."

Wojcik told Fair Work Australia that Metropolitan Express Transport Service should have considered other alternatives before dismissing her, with Smith saying it is unknown what would have happened if consultation was undertaken.

The transport operator began looking to save money after one of its customers, Australian Reinforcing Company, wanted to reduce its costs by 10 percent during negotiations on a new contract.

Metropolitan Express Transport Service State Manager Peter Thomas organised a meeting with Wojcik where he told her: "You know we have been negotiating a new contract with ARC and there is no easy way to say this but your job as operations coordinator is no longer required."

Although he ruled against the company, Smith added that he understood why it made Wojcik redundant.

"There is no doubt that METS lost a significant contract which caused it to consider its cost base," he says.

"I do accept that METS had a genuine reason for considering cost reductions and a decision in relation to redundancy was not without some justification given the lack of opportunities to reduce drivers."

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