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Qantas ordered to compensate fired safety rep

A court ordered Qantas to compensate a health and safety representative it unlawfully stood down during the pandemic.

user iconNaomi Neilson 29 February 2024 Big Law
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The NSW District Court ordered the airline to pay Theo Seremetidis $6,000 for economic loss and $15,000 for non-economic loss.

It comes after Qantas was found guilty of unlawfully standing down Mr Seremetidis for a direction he gave to staff to cease cleaning aircraft that had landed from COVID-19 “hotspots”.

The court will hear submissions about penalties at a later date.

 
 

Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), which assisted Mr Seremetidis throughout the SafeWork proceedings, welcomed the decision and the upcoming penalty decision as a “triumph”.

“Theo is a workplace hero. He fearlessly confronted one of Australia’s major corporate adversaries and came out on top,” TWU NSW/Queensland state secretary Richard Olsen said.

“This case has set a precedent for holding corporations to account but also sent a powerful message about the paramount importance of health and safety representatives to ensure the safety and wellbeing of workers across Australia.”

Mr Seremetidis told media the safety of his colleagues was “non-negotiable”.

“I refused to let Qantas get away with its behaviour,” he said.

Last September, the High Court upheld a ruling that found Qantas illegally fired 1,700 ground staff at the end of 2020.

Qantas is also due to face proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for allegedly selling tickets to cancelled flights.

A case management hearing has been set down for mid-March.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said it is important Qantas continues to be held to account for its “illegal behaviour, its disregard for workers’ safety concerns during the pandemic, and its treatment of workers at large”.

“We need to see a complete cultural shift at Qantas and a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to restore balance, fairness and stability to our aviation industry,” Mr Kaine said.