$58,300 in fines imposed after duress applied to Latrobe Valley workers

5 April 2011

Fines totaling $58,300 have been imposed in a case in which unlawful duress was applied to more than 30 Latrobe Valley workers at a mechanical engineering business.

Yallourn-based companies Mechanical Engineering Corporation Pty Ltd and Mechanical Engineering Services Pty Ltd have been fined $20,000 and $30,000 respectively.

Anthony Gordon Eliott, the owner and sole director of both companies, has been fined a further $5000 and Glenn Anthony Crisp, the former administrator of Mechanical Engineering Corporation Pty Ltd, has been fined a further $3300.

The fines, imposed in the Federal Court in Melbourne, are the result of a successful prosecution by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Justice Anthony North imposed the fines after Mechanical Engineering Corporation, Mechanical Engineering Services, Eliott and Crisp admitted they were involved in applying unlawful duress to a group of 37 workers in an attempt to get them to sign workplace agreements.

Mechanical Engineering Services and Eliott also admitted breaching the workers' freedom of association rights by dismissing the workers because they were trying to negotiate better industrial conditions.

The breaches occurred in 2006-2007 during a period when the workers were in an industrial dispute with Mechanical Engineering Services.

The workers were employed by Mechanical Engineering Services to work for Mechanical Engineering Corporation.

Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell says the case sends a message that employers must negotiate openly and fairly with employees in an environment free of duress and illegitimate pressure.

Employers or employees seeking assistance should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or visit www.fairwork.gov.au. An interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

Media inquiries:

Ryan Pedler, Senior Adviser, Media & Stakeholder Relations
(03) 9954 2561, 0411 430 902
ryan.pedler@fwo.gov.au

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