The Fair Work Ombudsman has been forced to drop its landmark case against crew members of the Tandara Spirit
The Fair Work Ombudsman has been forced to drop its landmark case against crew members of the Tandara Spirit for their unlawful strike that stopped the Viva Energy oil tanker from setting sail from Melbourne for up to three weeks.
The case was the first time the watchdog had targeted individual workers for unlawful industrial action, rather than just the union, and the Maritime Union of Australia described it as a potential "game-changer" at the time.
However, the FWO formally discontinued the legal action on Thursday ahead of what was expected to be a 10-day hearing.
The case was effectively spoiled following a Federal Court ruling that held Fair Work Commission's orders issued for Esso workers to stop industrial action were not specific enough to be valid.
The decision is understood to affect most stop orders issued in 2014, potentially neutralising other FWO investigations into industrial action taken by workers.
A FWO spokesman said the orders in the Tandara Spirit dispute "did not specify the particular industrial action to be stopped, but instead adopted the broad definition of industrial action".
"For this reason, the FWO determined that it could not pursue its legal action and the matter was discontinued."
However, the spokesman said it had not needed to discontinue any other matters.
The MUA and seven Tandara Spirit crew had been facing penalties and compensation orders for their much publicised 20-day sit-in in response to petroleum company Viva Energy notifying them it would end its charter of the ship.
MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin accused the FWO of "wasting the time and resources of the union".
"When will the FWO learn not to use taxpayers' money to go after unemployed Aussie seafarers? It doesn't pass the pub test."
Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/policy/industrial-relations/fair-work-ombudsman-forced-to-pull-gamechanging-case-over-unlawful-strikes-20170512-gw3imz#ixzz4gtuIkRcG