Qantas has been found guilty of illegally standing down Theo Seremetidis for simply carrying out his legal duties as a health and safety representative. The case was brought by SafeWork NSW accusing Qantas of targeting and standing down Mr Seremetidis because of his advice to workers to cease unsafe work during the pandemic.
SafeWork NSW, following a call from the Transport Workers Union, carried out an inspection and found that workers were being made to clean planes arriving from COVID hotspots without adequate personal protective equipment, COVID-safe training, or disinfectant – just water and one rag to clean multiple tray tables.
Mr Seremetidis was stood down and never worked for Qantas again. A year later, he and his workmates were illegally sacked by the airline.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“As far as the union movement is concerned, Theo is a hero for standing up at great cost to himself to keep the whole of the community safe from a deadly virus at a time where no vaccines were available and when hospitals around the world were being overwhelmed. Congratulations to the TWU who stood by Theo in the dark times and can finally see him win justice.
“Qantas has shown us time and time again they will use every trick in the book to maximise their profits over the welfare of people. When it comes to the passing of the Closing Loopholes Bill, I say this to Peter Dutton and the crossbench: do you really want to be siding with the likes of Qantas over working people?”