The Federal Court has ruled that a union member holding a sign attacking co-workers for being “scabs” during the Bowen Basin mine strikes was exercising a protected right and his dismissal for such conduct breached the Fair Work Act.
The court found holding such a sign could not be considered adverse action because it did not prejudice workers’ employment.
The decision, which is an about-turn from preliminary observations by another judge in the case, is expected to have ramifications for other similar adverse action cases involving scab signs, including one against Maritime Union of Australia official Will Tracey (WF18275). The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) has told Workforce Daily there are several similar cases it is expecting judgments on in the next few months.
(CFMEU v BHP Coal Pty Ltd , FCA 1218, 7/11/2012)
Source: The full version of this article was first published in Workforce, 2 November 2012.