United Voice member back at work thanks to Hall Payne Lawyers
In July 2015 a United Voice member was unfairly dismissed by her employer, ISS. The Union were successful in obtaining orders at the Fair Work Commission, but ISS, along with Gold Coast Airport, refused to comply. Today the member returns to work the first time since July, thanks to United Voice and Hall Payne Lawyers.
Mid last year an Aviation Protection Officer employed by ISS was terminated from her position at Gold Coast Airport. Shortly after, United Voice, the employee’s union, filed an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission. The application alleged the dismissal was unfair, and successfully obtained orders reinstating the employee to her position from 4 January 2016. The orders also provided for full back pay.
ISS complied with this component of the order, including payment of a regular income, but this income was accompanied with a direction the employee not return to work. ISS had emailed both the Union and the FWC to advise that they were unable to comply with the Commissioner’s order for reinstatement as Gold Coast Airport, their client, had exercised rights under their commercial contract with ISS to exclude the employee from providing services.
While ISS offered alternative roles to the employee, local alternatives offered were insulting and undermined the qualifications, skill and experience of the employee. Other options presented to the employee included a role at Brisbane Airport, an unfeasible alternative for a Gold Coast based part-time worker.
Writing following ISS’s refusal to comply with the orders the employee spoke of the humiliating and devastating experience of the dismissal, and how the orders had been vindicating. The employee had wanted to return to the workplace with her head held high, so that colleagues could see she had been treated unfairly, and wasn’t a bad employee. While the Commission had supported her right to do this, the joint actions of ISS and Gold Coast Airport deprived her of what she wanted most – to return to her job.
Until this point United Voice had acted for their member, obtaining the orders from the FWC reinstating the employee. When ISS refused to comply United Voice called on Hall Payne Lawyers to seek enforcement and get the worker back to work. On 1 February HPL commenced proceedings in the court against both ISS and their client, Gold Coast Airport, to enforce the order. This process kicked off the commencement of negotiations which ultimately saw a settlement. As a result of that settlement this United Voice member will today return to her job for the first time since July last year. The negotiated settlement also resulted in an agreed amount of costs being paid to our client, United Voice.
What happened to this employee was wrong in the first instance, and was compounded by ISS and Gold Coast Airport’s refusal to comply with the FWC order. The two stages of this matter, and the actions and support of United Voice, demonstrate how a Union can drastically change your ability to protect your rights and work, and why Union membership is so important. Through representing the employee at the Fair Work Commission, and then calling on Hall Payne Lawyers to enforce the Orders provided United Voice together with HPL have returned an employee to her job and with full back pay.
The other aspect of this case is the value and dignity in work. While this employee was receiving full pay, what ISS’s actions failed to acknowledge is the non-monetary value in work. The employee’s refusal to settle for anything less than the job she had trained for, worked in for five years, and loved, is a demonstration of the important role work plays in our lives, and why there’s value in fighting for your rights in the workplace.
If you believe you’ve been unfairly treated and require assistance please contact HPL Principal Luke Tiley (Brisbane) or HPL Associate Joseph Kennedy (Sydney), both available on Free Call 1800 659 114.
This article relates to Australian law; either at a State or Federal level.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hall Payne Lawyers.