Fair Work finds sacking of an Esso worker was ‘unfair’

THE Fair Work Commission has found that Esso Australia “unfairly” sacked a union delegate for abusing a contractor by calling him a “f—ing scab”.

A full bench hearing on October 2, headed by president Iain Ross, ruled Esso’s sacking of Electrical Trades Union delegate Michael Hatwell at its Longford gas plant last year was harsh because his comment was only one act of harassment.

The ruling overturned the previous decision that held calling a worker a scab was serious misconduct and warranted dismissal.

The full bench cited evidence by an Esso manager that the use of the word “scab” did not warrant dismissal. It found Mr Hatwell had been unfairly dismissed.

As previously reported earlier in the Gippsland Times in May, commission deputy president Alan Colman then rejected an unfair dismissal claim by Mr Hatwell, finding Esso had a valid reason for sacking him after he abused another worker, who was working on his rostered day off.

The commission’s full bench upheld a ruling that a second Esso worker was not unfairly dismissed for excluding a contractor from a lunchroom.

Industrial tension at the Longford Gas Plants has been high since a controversial but legal strategy was implemented more than a year ago by contractor UGL that cut wages and workers’ conditions at the plant.

A union protest ‘camp’ near the Longford gas plant has been manned around the clock since June, 2017.