Qantas’ unlawful vaccine mandate next in the Fair Work Commission’s firing line
By Daniel Y. Teng Epoch times
The major decision last week by Australia’s workplace tribunal to strike down a vaccine mandate by mining giant, BHP, has opened the door for other unions to consider challenging similar orders in their sectors.
The Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineer’s Association (ALAEA) said it would consider challenging vaccine mandates handed down by national carrier Qantas.
“The BHP coal decision was about consultation, not vaccine mandates. A policy decision cannot be made prior to genuine consultation. Qantas has been fined before for telling us a policy decision at the first consultation meeting,” Steve Purvinas, federal secretary of the ALAEA, told The Epoch Times in a statement.
“In the case of mandatory vaccination, it is worse. We first heard about the decision on live television.”
On Dec. 3, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled that BHP’s vaccine mandate on workers at the Mt Arthur thermal coal mine in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, was unlawful and unreasonable.
The decision was slated to have ramifications across the country, specifically for vaccine mandates handed down by private businesses and not under government-mandated health orders.
The FWC members found that BHP did not hold proper consultations with its employees before implementing its mandate, a requirement under the union’s enterprise agreement.
BHP’s health and safety officials also admitted the word “consultation” was not used in its email on the mandate, nor was the word “mandatory” present in the company’s formal announcement.
Giuseppe Carabetta, a senior lecturer at the Sydney University Business School, said the decision did not spell “defeat for employers mandating COVID-19 vaccination.”
“Indeed, the ruling isn’t really about the overall validity of Mt Arthur’s vaccine mandate. Its focus is instead management’s failure to properly consult with its employees under work health and safety laws,” he wrote in The Conversation on Dec. 7.
Carabetta said vaccine mandates needed to be reasonable depending on the “nature of the work, established practices, industrial instruments; and consultation requirements.”
Purvinas meanwhile, conceded that the BHP decision would not apply to most airport workers, who fall under government mandates, he noted, however, that “this is not the case at all airports.”
“If a member of ours was not covered by a state mandate, we would look to defend their job based on the perfunctory nature of Qantas’ phony consultation,” he said.
The ALAEA does accept that vaccination does contribute to workplace health and safety, but objects to workers losing their positions if they are unvaccinated.
“Unvaccinated employees should be able to take leave until they are vaccinated or the threat is otherwise removed through herd immunity.”
Coles and Woolworths will get a hike in income from FWC ruling much to the detriment of farmers
CHANGES to a farm worker Industrial Relations Award means that fruit pickers will now receive a guaranteed minimum wage but Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, says the farmers will bear the brunt of an increase in costs in the supermarket as a result.
“The decision by the Fair Work Commission to provide a minimum wage for farm workers is a good decision because it will encourage people to become farm workers and not have to get everyone from overseas.
“Having said that, cost structures have to be born by the farmers – they can’t pass it on.
“We have only two or three people that sell fruit and vegetables in Australia and combined they have over 75 percent of the market. They pay the farmers whatever they feel like paying the farmers.”
Mr Katter said that farm incomes from the supermarkets giants had barely changed in the last 30 years ago but the price of food to the consumer has skyrocketed more than 250 percent.
“The real problem here is that the farmers had their collective bargaining rights taken off them. For the workers, this is a good thing that they have got their bargaining rights, but the farmers don’t have their bargaining rights because the National Party deregulated most of their industries.
“So yes, the workers can and should be given a better go but the people who are going to be punished here are the farmers and the benefit to the consumer, is nil.
“There is a as much chance of the supermarket giants passing on that charge and giving it to the farmers as I have got of becoming a beetle rider from Booroola.
“So, Mr Government, give back to the farmers their right to collectively bargain. The workers have that right and they should have it and the farmers should have it.
“You took it off them and they’ve been screwed through the floor. There were 270,000 of them, now there is a 160,000 of them. What a cruelty. What a cruelty. And the Australian people are paying the price.
“All those changes, clearly, we know who profited by them. It wasn’t the worker. It wasn’t the consumer, and it most certainly wasn’t the farmer.”