The national carrier and one of its managers have been fined $15,500 by the Federal Magistrates Court, after a worker was found to have been adversely affected over exercising his workplace rights.
A Brisbane-based aircraft engineer pursued an adverse claim after returning to Australia following a posting in Tokyo. The worker claimed that upon his return, he received advice from the Licensed Aircraft Engineers’ Association (ALAEA) that under their enterprise agreement he was entitled to additional payments of approximately $10,000.
Yet when signalling his intention to apply for the additional payments with his manager, the worker was pressured not to do so. “Management then turned around and told to all of his workmates that none of those guys would be able to take one of these overseas postings until such time that [the worker] actually withdrew his claim for payment,” Steve Purvinas from the ALAEA told ABC.
The court found that Qantas, and the manager in particular, contravened adverse action provisions by suspending overseas postings for engineers following the pay dispute with the worker. The manager was also guilty of breaking workplace laws by attempting to coerce the worker into not exercising his workplace rights.
Workplace lawyers have said the court’s ruling is a warning to bullies, and commented that the finding is significant. “It's significant because it's rare to see, not just the company, but a senior manager of the company being fined,” Giri Sivaraman from Maurice Blackburn said.
In a statement, Qantas said that it takes its responsibilities under the Fair Work Act seriously, and said the court acknowledged the steps the carrier has taken to train its managers in relation to their responsibilities under the Act.
The outcome was a result of an appeal – Qantas was fined $13,200 while the manager in question was fined $2,200.
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