Visy Packaging has been fined $52,470 for suspending a worker after he sidelined two defective forklifts in 2011.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union said the money will be paid to the union after a Federal Court judge found Visy Packaging wrongly investigated, suspended and issued a final warning to WHS delegate Jon Zwart for ‘tagging’ two forklifts with defective reversing warning beepers.
The company was ordered to pay $23,100 for wrongly investigating and suspending Zwart after refusing a company proposal that the dangerous forklifts be re-used with drivers honking a warning.
Justice Bernard Murphy also set a $24,750 penalty for Visy wrongly issuing a final warning to Zwart, which it says makes up75 per cent of the maximum penalty.
Visy executive Robin Street was also fined $4,620.
The judge said the penalty should act as a deterrent for any company which fails to take OHS concerns seriously.
“The contraventions are serious and Visy must be deterred from again infringing the workplace right enjoyed by health and safety representatives and employees to raise their legitimate OHS concerns,” Justice Murphy said.
Zwart, who worked at Visy for 25 years, said he was glad the stressful matter was over.
“What’s happened to me has changed attitudes on the shop floor, the guys are stoked because we’ve established the principle of our workplace rights and responsibilities under the OHS Act,” Zwart said.
“It’s also our right as employees to have a safe workplace, to be provided with a safe environment.”