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AWU wins unfair dismissal case for BlueScope delegate and long-time member

May 15, 2020

BlueScope Steel has been called out for its ‘harsh and unreasonable’ dismissal of a crane driver who has now won his job back.

The Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) took BlueScope to the Fair Work Commission citing it had unfairly dismissed Trevor Knowles who had worked for the company for 32 years.

Mr Knowles, a grandfather from Windang, was sacked last October and had to use his hard earned super to survive being out of work at the age of 64.

He now intends to return to work at Port Kembla as soon as possible and will be recompensed for his lost earnings. But, he says the stress of the past few months has taken a heavy toll and has praised the AWU for its support since he was sacked last October.

BlueScope claimed he had damaged a coil (rolled up steel) when moving it with his crane.

The Commissioner dismissed the alleged breach saying Mr Knowles did not ‚Äúcause a safety incident…..An invisible employee or an illusory recalcitrant visitor could not have been injured in this circumstance. The absence of a valid reason makes the termination of the Applicant harsh and unreasonable‚ÄĚ.

The Commission also visited the BlueScope site and said that damage to coils was pretty common and that any alleged breach was ‘of such minor magnitude that termination is a harsh outcome’.

The FWC also noted that the treatment metered out to Mr Knowles, a long serving union delegate, was more harsh than ‘compared to his peers’ and he should have been issued with a final warning by his supervisor Daniel Cadwellen and manager Gary Meta.

Paul Farrow, AWU NSW Acting Assistant Secretary, said Mr Knowles should never had had to go through this process and BlueScope owed him a huge apology.

Mr Farrow said: “The Fair Work Commission saw this for what it is, an unfair and harsh treatment of a worker who has given more than three decades of his life to BlueScope and who has helped countless others as a union delegate.

“I am proud that the AWU was able to help one of their own, but am saddened that people can still be treated like this. BlueScope should know better.”

Mr Knowles says his plans of retiring in the next 12 months have now evaporated and he will have to work for at least three more years to try and claw back some of his super and savings.

He said: “I can’t wait to get back to work and hold no hard feelings. I can’t thank the AWU enough for what they have done for me. I have always been a union member and always will be.”

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