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Qube Ports Pty Ltd is fighting a Fair Work decision to reinstate six shift managers who were sacked after refusing to work as stevedores, who were taking industrial action.

The Fair Work Commission found the dismissal of the workers, who were sacked in 2021 during industrial disputes was ‘harsh, unjust and unreasonable’. The Commission ordered the managers be reinstated with full back pay and no loss of entitlements.

Following the decision on February 25 2022, and on the following Monday Qube filed notices of appeal and also seek an urgent interlocutory hearing for a stay of the orders.

This would put a stop to the reinstatement and back pay until the outcome of the appeal hearing.

The dismissals of the six shift managers arose at a time when industrial action was being taken by Stevedores at the Port of Fremantle for better working conditions. It was at that time the six shift managers were approached on multiple occasions by Qube’s WA State Manager and asked to perform the work of the Stevedores.

On one of these occasions the State Manager also asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement for a document they were not permitted to read.

Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer in Industrial and Employment Law, Daniel Stojanoski, said the work was unsafe to ask them to do.

“The work they were asked to do was done by skilled workers who were specially trained and licensed,” Mr Stojanoski said.

“To ask untrained workers to do the work is unfathomable and would have placed many lives at risk.

“In addition to the work being unsafe, the six workers also felt uncomfortable with being asked to perform those duties due to the industrial action taking place.”

Mr Stojanoski said the unfair dismissals created significant stress and income instability, with some of the workers having to move or sell their assets to supplement the income they were no longer receiving.

“They had to decide whether they performed unsafe work to keep the lights on in their house or disagree and not risk their lives. That is a decision that nobody should have make,” Mr Stojanoski said.

Mr Stojanoski said workers have the right to refuse to do unsafe work and a direction to do so is unlawful.

“Workers are not expendable. They are people. They have families.

“Slater and Gordon have a proud history of championing for the rights of Aussie workers.

“We will continue to represent these six workers during the appeals process and continue to represent the rights of every worker who has been unfairly dismissed,” said Mr Stojanoski.

Media Contact Cassandra-Elli Yiannacou 0401 322 593