MUA wins battle against Fair Work Ombudsman over 100 workers sacked by text

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) says the decision today by the Federal Court to reject the massive fines sought by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) in the Hutchison sacked-by-text scandal is a victory for common sense.

On 6 August 2015, Hutchison Ports Australia sacked 100 workers in Sydney and Brisbane by text message the day before many of them were due to go on shift.

The company then placed guards on the gates and workers were not even allowed to clear their lockers.

The MUA responded with a massive community based campaign.

After 136 days, the company relented and after the sacked workers returned, the MUA negotiated an agreement with Hutchison. 

The campaign was supported by labour leaders and unions from all over the world.

MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said: “The Australian community got behind Hutchison workers because they understood that if more than 100 workers could be sacked by text at midnight, it could happen to them too.

“The community understood that conduct of Hutchison was a shabby, mean-spirited and heartbreaking attack on an innocent workforce.

“The union fought for 136 days to save their jobs and we were ultimately successful but instead of punishing a rogue employer the Fair Work  Ombudsman chased the union for protecting our members' jobs.

“The Fair Work Ombudsman’s claim for $3.7 million in penalties and $600,000 in compensation to Hutchison was outrageous and shows that the system is broken.

“The Federal Court comprehensively rejected the FWO case for compensation and reduced the fine to one per cent of what the FWO was seeking. 


"This decision was a win for common sense and demonstrates that the fight must go on to change the rules, so workers and their unions get a fair go from the industrial relations system.”