Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Granddad wins back his BlueScope job, but then loses it again

 A 64-year-old grandfather has lost his job at the steelworks after BlueScope won its appeal at the Fair Work Commission.

Windang's Trevor Knowles had worked for the steelmaker for more than 30 years when he was sacked in October last year after an incident at the Springhill site.

While operating a crane moving steel coils, BlueScope claimed Mr Knowles damaged a coil and also created the safety risk of the coil tipping over.

The steelmaker contended his actions were a breach of safety procedure and came a year after a written final warning over another incident.

"The company is concerned about your behaviour as a despatch operator and as an employee," the letter stated.

He was sacked on October 1 but lodged an unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission.

In his defence, Mr Knowles claimed his sacking was harsh and unjust because the incident did not warrant termination and he was not able to properly defend himself in the investigation.

Commissioner Bernie Riordan ruled in his favour, finding the sacking unfair and ordering he be reinstated and back-paid to the date of dismissal.

After the decision Mr Knowles said the action meant he'd had to change his plans to retire in 12 months but was happy to return to work.

But that didn't last long; BlueScope appealed the decision ,which put his return to work on hold.

Earlier this month a panel of three commissioners upheld the appeal and dismissed Mr Knowles' unfair dismissal claim.

BlueScope contended Commissioner Riordan did not give sufficient weight to the final warning that had been issued a year earlier.

The steelmaker also objected to a finding that "BlueScope had engaged in a practice of issuing multiple final warning letters for different incidents", claiming it had no "evidentiary basis".

The appeal panel disagreed with the commissioner's decision that Mr Knowles' action was not a safety risk, saying he misunderstood the relevant safety procedure in place at BlueScope.

The panel pointed out that Mr Knowles admitted breaching that procedure and the safety risk posed meant sacking was not a "disproportionate outcome".

"While Mr Knowles' conduct did not cause injury to any person it amounted to a significant safety incident, the ruling stated.

The panel also found Mr Knowles age and years of service did not "weigh so heavily in his favour so as to render the dismissal harsh, unjust or unreasonable"

Sourced from: Illawarra Mercury ,Glen Humphries, Granddad wins back his BlueScope job, but then loses it again (26th August 2020)

https://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/6893951/granddad-wins-back-his-bluescope-job-but-then-loses-it-again/

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