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The AWU wins back job for BP worker sacked for joke

February 28, 2020

The Australian Workers’ Union wins job back for BP worker sacked for making a joke.

It’s a victory for commonsense and the Australian larrikin sense of humour.

The Fair Work Commission has ordered the reinstatement of a BP technician who had been sacked for sharing a joke online after a battle by The Australian Workers’ Union.

BP fired AWU member Scott Tracey after he poked fun at EBA negotiations at its WA Kwinana refinery by changing the subtitles on an infamous video featuring a rant from Hitler.

BP claimed he created an offensive video depicting BP representatives as Nazis. Its decision to fire him was at first upheld last year when he lost his battle for unfair dismissal.

It was a very different story today though, with the FWC ruling the video had been used thousands of times in the last 15 years and there was no valid reason to sack Mr Tracey. It not only ruled he should be reinstated but also be compensated for lost earnings following the appeal by the AWU.

“This is a meme that has been used in the context of sporting clubs, TV reality shows, international relations and everything in between,” said Daniel Walton, National Secretary of the AWU.

“For BP to allege this had anything to do with actually comparing management to Nazis was obtuse at best, but more likely disingenuous.

“Workers should be able to take the piss out of management with their colleagues in their own time. The day that right is lost would be a very bleak day for Australia.”

Brad Gandy, AWU WA Branch Secretary, added: “This decision is a victory for workers’ rights in the digital era, a victory common sense, and a victory for Aussie larrikinism.”

“How BP decided an employee could be terminated for a private joke amongst mates is beyond me, but I’m very grateful the Fair Work Commission has set things right today.”

The FWC bench said: “Anyone with knowledge of the meme could not seriously consider that the use of the clip was to make some point involving Hitler or Nazis.

“What it does do is compare, for satirical purposes, the position BP had reached in the enterprise bargaining process as at September 2018 to the situation facing Hitler and the Nazi regime in April 1945.”

This joke featuring a furious Hitler has been shared and altered thousands of times online and the various parodies range from Hitler hitting out at election results, to erupting over Donald Trump’s election victory to complaining about climate change.

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