MAC: Mines and Communities

Blair Athol Unfair Dismissal Cases Summary

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01

Blair Athol Unfair Dismissal Cases Summary

21 July 1998 – 16 Blair Athol mineworkers sacked. Union launches unfair dismissal application.

9 April 2001 – Commissioner Hodder rules that the 16 were unfairly dismissed and the victims of “unfair and unjust treatment” because of their Union membership. The Commission also confirmed the existence of “a ‘Secret Black List” used to victimise the 16 and ruled that their retrenchments were not merit-based. Describes management treatment of Blacklisted employees as a “blood sport”. Commissioner Hodder orders the reinstatement of the 16 with full back pay. Rio Tinto appeals but continues to pay the men while refusing to allow them back to work at Blair Athol.

12 December 2002 – By a majority of 2-1, Full Bench of Commission upholds Commissioner Hodder's finding that the 16 men were unfairly dismissed. In their decision the Full Bench said: “We find for ourselves that the termiantions were harsh, unjust and unreasonable..” However, because the Workplace Relations Act provides for only 6-months pay as compensation for unfair dismissals, and the men had been paid more than this, the Full Bench declined to order their reinstatement at Blair Athol.

7 February 2003 – Union lodges exceptional matters application under Section 120A of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, for an order requiring Rio Tinto to re-employ the 16 unfairly dismissed Blair Athol mineworkers at the company's new neighbouring Hail Creek mine in Central Queensland.

25 July 2003 – Full Bench orders that the 16 unfairly dismissed mineworkers be given preference of employment at Rio Tinto's new Hail Creek coal mine. Rio Tinto announces it will appeal the decision.

1 March 2004 – Four of the 16 victimised miners to return to work at Blair Athol.

8 March 2004 – Two more of the victimised workers to commence employment at the Hail Creek mine.

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