QANTAS FINED $250K OVER THEO'S TREATMENT

Following on from our report last week that Qantas Ground Services has agreed to compensate HSR Theo Seremetidis with $21,000 after a court found he was unlawfully discriminated against. 

Qantas has also been fined $250,000 by the District Court of NSW for breaching the NSW WHS Act, describing Qantas' conduct as ‘quite shameful.'

Qantas sidelined Theo after he directed that cleaning work should cease on planes arriving from China, amid concerns workers were being exposed to serious risk of infection.

The District Court of NSW emphasised the imbalance of power between Qantas managers and Theo, with the judge describing Qantas' conduct towards Theo as ‘quite shameful’ and finding the company’s actions ‘deliberate and aimed at advancing its commercial interests’.

SafeWork NSW prosecuted Qantas for breaching work health and safety laws after the TWU ‘called in the regulator’. The NSW Minister for Work Health and Safety welcomed the ruling and underscored the importance of protecting HSRs.

The TWU view the conviction as a landmark moment for ‘corporate accountability’ on workplace safety and is calling for an independent ‘Safe and Secure Skies Commission’ to set standards across aviation, saying ‘deterrents are important, but prevention is the best way to protect workers.'

Qantas has accepted the penalty, agreeing to compensate Theo, and acknowledging the incident's impact. Additionally, Qantas faces a Federal Court hearing later this month for the unlawful outsourcing of ground crew jobs.

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