||Issue No. 330||27 October 2006|
Fair Weather Friends
Interview: Cowboys and Indians
Industrial: Seven Deadly Sins
Unions: The IT Factor
Politics: Bargain Basement
Environment: An Inconvenient Hoax
Corporate: Two Sides
International: Unfair Dismissals
History: A Stitch in Time
Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Rissole Burns Joint Venture
Safety delegate, Mal Peters, has successfully challenged “operational reasons” in the WA Industrial Relations Commission and won the right to have his unfair dismissal case heard.
Peters was dumped after returning to Perth from an east coast speaking tour where he raised support for 107 workmates on Leighton's Perth-Mandurah rail project who face fines of up to $28,000 for striking in support of a sacked union delegate.
He took annual leave to go on the speaking tour with his wife, Bernadette.
In an important decision, Senior IR Commissioner Jack Gregor, said the Leighton Kumaigi joint venture had a case to answer because their claim to have dismissed Peters for operational reasons did not appear genuine.
John Howard added "operational reasons" to a suite of sack-at-will options for employers in this year WorkChoices legislation.
Previously, IR Commission had only held that operational reasons needed to be "reasonable" to ring-fence employers from scrutiny. They had not made any findings on whether or not they needed to be genuine.
The decision is doubly important because it goes to the heart of the reason Peters and his workmates were hauled before the federal court by the Building Industry Commission.
They struck because they claimed a union delegate had been victimised by the company.
Similar arguments lie behind the CFMEU's defence of Peters.
Leighton Kumaigi claimed Peters had not been rissoled because of his speaking tour but because work on his section of the project had finished.
But the IRC found Peters had been involved in safety issues across the site and the contractor should have tried to find him employment on unfinished sections of the project.
Specifically, the commissioner found there was no genuine operational reason for Peters' dismissal and that his unfair dismissal action should proceed.
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