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Verdict delayed in Qantas COVID sacking case

written by Naomi Neilson | November 3, 2023

Qantas will have to wait another week to find out if it was wrong to sack a worker who raised concerns over COVID after the court delayed a verdict at the last minute.

A judge of the NSW District Court on Friday morning said a decision in the SafeWork criminal prosecution would be shifted because he had received another case relevant to the matter late on Thursday. The news came hours before the airline’s annual general meeting.

The dispute concerned a former cleaner, Theo Seremeditis, who was terminated for instructing others not to work in February 2020. Seremeditis said he did so because staff had not been supplied with the proper equipment to protect themselves from the virus. He also alleges he was told that the risk of catching the virus outside of China “was very low”.

Qantas has denied the sacking was unlawful and insisted the case must be viewed in the context of what was known about COVID at the time the incident took place.


Appearing outside the courthouse after the announcement, Labor senator head Tony Sheldon told waiting reporters the Flying Kangaroo is “operating like a crime gang” while the courts have seen “case after case” against them, including a recent finding that it illegally sacked 1700 workers.

“They are still giving themselves massive bonuses case after case. (This delay) is yet another example of what needs to be done about holding these companies to account,” Sheldon said.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine added that Qantas is a company “whose exploits have been laid bare” in courts recently, which has shown the airline is “the greatest corporate bullies in Australian history”.

He called for the removal of chair Richard Goyder.

“(Qantas employees) have been hoodwinked by a company that previously, over generations, had grown trust,” Kaine said.

“That trust has been ripped away. This is another example of Qantas fighting hard to damage workers who are just doing the right thing for themselves and for the Australian flying public.”

Referring to the AGM, Kaine said shareholders are “furious” with the airline and called for the entire board to be replaced.

“Shareholders want a company that is viable in an ongoing sense.

“The management team has said it wants to turn over a new leaf…so (Goyder) has to go. We need board renewal urgently,” he said.

Sheldon agreed, telling reporters Goyder should be pushed out “as quickly as possible”.

“It is beyond belief to think that this board has any credibility in the way they have been operating,” Sheldon said.

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