52 to face Federal Court for unlawful industrial action

Fifty-Two employees working on a new Gas Conditioning Plant in Longford are facing Federal Court action for allegedly engaging in unlawful industrial action.

The Gas Conditioning Plant will process gas from the largest domestic gas development on Australia’s eastern seaboard, the multi-billion dollar Kipper Tuna Turrum Project.

In a statement of claim filed in the Federal Court, FWBC alleges forty five employees walked off the project at 2pm on 12 February 2015.  This was followed by 50 employees failing to report to work their normal shift on 13 February 2015.

The initial walk off followed a meeting of employees during the lunch break which was addressed by an AWU official.  On both days stoppages were stated to be in support of an employee who had been dismissed on 11 February 2015, during his probationary period.

FWBC Director Nigel Hadgkiss said that vigilantism should never be endorsed on building and construction sites and that workers with grievances should always use the legitimate options open to them.

“The Fair Work Act has been in operation since 2009 and it clearly outlines the difference between lawful and unlawful industrial action,” Mr Hadgkiss said.

“Employees should not take the law into their own hands.  The dismissed worker could have gone to the Fair Work Commission and had the circumstances of his dismissal fully explored.  Instead, workers took it upon themselves to disrupt the construction of a significant piece of Victorian infrastructure.”

Under the Fair Work Act, it is unlawful to take part in any unprotected industrial action before the nominal expiry date of an employee’s enterprise agreement has passed.

A case management hearing for the matter has been set for 1 April 2016.

Individuals who engage in unlawful industrial action may be fined up to $10,800 and organisations can face penalties of up to $54,000.

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