Union hit with $720K pay-out after preventing employment of non-members

by Chloe Taylor02 Apr 2015
The Western Australia branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) was recently ordered to pay over $720,000 compensation to a Perth couple who were denied work because they were not members of the union.

The Federal Court fined the MUA $79,200, and also ordered the organisation to pay $723,300 to Bruce and Lynne Love.

Skilled Offshore – formerly Offshore Marine Services – was ordered to pay the MUA a third of the compensation for its role in refusing the couple work.

The court found that Skilled Offshore Australia had made MUA membership a prerequisite for employment and told the Loves that in order to secure employment as stewards, they had to obtain membership.

Their applications were then rejected by the MUA, ensuring that the jobs went to existing union members.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) began legal proceedings in June 2011.

The following year, Offshore Marine Services was fined $7500 after admitting its actions, but the MUA defended the claims.

In his decision, Justice John Gilmour ruled that the MUA’s actions were “blatant use of illegitimate industrial action power to bully Offshore Marine Services” into denying the couple employment.

He added that Offshore Marine Services had wanted to employ the couple, but was threatened with industrial action by the MUA if it did so.

Workplace legislation prohibits employers from employing a person based on whether the person is a member of a union.

“Employees have the right to join or not join a union and this should not have any bearing on their ability to seek paid employment,” said Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

MUA branch secretary Chris Cain said that the union would be discussing the outcome with its legal team, WA today reported.
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  • by Paul 2/04/2015 11:20:16 AM

    Oh MUA!!!

    How can employers ever be expected to work with you on employee matters.

  • by Estelle 2/04/2015 11:45:22 AM

    Back in 1980 I applied for a position at an establishment which opened in 1981. I was told I had to join the union in order to work there, which I did (I knew nothing about unions then, nor what my entitlements were ). About 8 months after we opened we were having morning tea in our office when the subject of unions came up and we found out only 2 employees out of 9 in our office were not told they had to join the union (one of them was our boss). I can only imagine the rest of the establishment's staff members (approx. 140) and with the exception of the managerial staff were told the same. I can tell you our boss was not happy when he found out, and told us all if we wanted to resign from the union, that is a personal decision, and there would be no repercussions, our jobs were guaranteed. Needless to say we all resigned.

  • by JIM 2/04/2015 12:15:22 PM

    This comment is addressed to HC Online - you got your facts wrong. The amount payable by the MUA was actually in the order of $561,400. Yes, the judge did initially order compo of about $720k but he then qualified that by ordering one third of that amount to be paid by Skilled Offshore (Australia) to the Loves.

    C'mon HC Online - it's all there in black and white, you just have to read it. It's basic journalism to get your facts right.

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