Worker Wins Finding of Unfair Dismissal Over Safety Issue

Fair-Work-AustraliaHe was known as a good concreter but after working for his employer for 15 years when he smiled during an interview over safety he was sacked.

However this week the worker won an unfair dismissal claim against that employer who dismissed him last April when he smiled in a meeting that was convened to warn him about a concerning safety breach.

According to the general manager of the workers previous employer the worker was fired because if was felt that he showed a lack of concern for safety in the workplace, otherwise he had a good record at the company.

The concreter had been working at a Deer Park building site, in the west of Melbourne, when the breach happened. He had been operating a trowel driver, which is a heavy type of machinery that is used to smooth concrete when he was seen giving another worker a lift for approximately 20 metres on the machine.

The concreter admitted later on that it was a dangerous thing to do.

At the hearing for the unfair dismissal the concrete firm’s general manager said that this safety breach could have ended up with one of the workers being seriously injured or possibly dying and that was not behaviour that was acceptable in the workplace.

When the concreter was spoken to about the incident approximately a month later he either smiled or smirked at his employer and was sacked. The Fair Work Commissioner David Gregory ruled that this dismissal was unfair.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) represented the concreter at the hearing and said at the commission that it was ”inherently unreliable to dismiss a worker based on one person’s interpretation of that worker’s facial expression”.


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