October 29, 2021

Qantas charged over standing down health and safety rep

SafeWork’s prosecution of Qantas for standing down a TWU health and safety representative is the first of its kind.

At the beginning of the pandemic Theo Seremetidis used his right as a HSR to stop work until there was proper PPE to clean planes from China.

He was just keeping himself and his colleagues safe.

Qantas stood him down for using his legal right to stop unsafe work, and was never stood back up – in fact he was one of the 2000 workers illegally outsourced by Qantas a year later.

If Theo and his colleagues didn’t stand their ground, no doubt there would have been more COVID spread in the community.

At the time, Qantas described the risk of COVID as “negligible.”

Only weeks later, huge failings by Qantas led to a cluster outbreak of 34 staff, and a further 750 forced to self-isolate. The company was slammed by SafeWork for its unsafe practices at the time, but Theo was never stood back up.

The TWU conducted a survey during this period of over 850 Qantas workers, which revealed that 93% are concerned about the safety of themselves and others at work.

This decision to prosecute Qantas is a landmark moment for health and safety in Australia, and a huge win for the many health and safety reps keeping workers safe.

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