Union prosecuted over alleged unlawful industrial action

27 October 2009

The Fair Work Ombudsman has launched a prosecution against the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia (TWU), the TWU Queensland branch and their officials over alleged unlawful industrial action by Qantas baggage handlers in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in March this year.

The six respondents to the prosecution are the TWU, the TWU Queensland branch, and four of their officials and organisers, Anthony Sheldon, Scott Connolly, John Loader and Rick Burton.

In court documents lodged in the Federal Court in Sydney, the Fair Work Ombudsman alleges each respondent played a role in organising Qantas baggage handlers to engage in coordinated unlawful industrial action for approximately four hours at Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth airports on 30 March 2009.

It is alleged that the majority of the baggage handlers who participated in the industrial action were TWU members.

The industrial action was allegedly conducted in objection to the outsourcing of work by Qantas and over concerns about airport security.

The Fair Work Ombudsman will allege the industrial action was unlawful because it was conducted before the Qantas baggage handlers’ enterprise bargaining agreement expired in 2011.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson says the decision to launch the prosecution was made because workplace laws regarding how industrial action can be lawfully conducted had allegedly not been adhered to.

The TWU and the TWU Queensland branch each face a maximum potential fine of $33,000 per alleged breach, while the four TWU officials each face a maximum fine of $6600 per alleged breach.

This prosecution follows a separate prosecution launched recently by the Fair Work Ombudsman against the TWU for allegedly organising unlawful industrial action by Qantas baggage handlers at Adelaide and Melbourne in 2007.

The Fair Work Ombudsman promotes harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces. It also monitors compliance with and investigates breaches of national workplace laws.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fwo.gov.au. For translations call 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Craig Bildstien, Director Media & Stakeholder Relations,
0419 818 484
craig.bildstien@fwo.gov.au

Ryan Pedler, Media & Stakeholder Relations Senior Adviser
(03) 9954 2561, 0434 365 924
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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