australian aviation logo

Court awards $21k to former Qantas safety rep

written by Naomi Neilson | February 28, 2024
Former Qantas health and safety representative Theo Seremetidis (centre, arms raised) celebrates the NSW District Court’s verdict against Qantas in November 2023. (Image: TWU)

A court has ordered Qantas to compensate a health and safety representative it unlawfully stood down during the pandemic.

The NSW District Court ordered the airline to pay Theo Seremetidis $6,000 for economic loss and $15,000 for non-economic loss.

It comes after Qantas was found guilty of unlawfully standing down Mr Seremetidis for a direction he gave to staff to cease cleaning aircraft that had landed from COVID-19 “hotspots”.

The court will hear submissions about penalties at a later date.

Transport Workers Union (TWU), which assisted Mr Seremetidis throughout the Safe Work proceedings, welcomed the decision and the upcoming penalty decision as a “triumph”.

“Theo is a workplace hero. He fearlessly confronted one of Australia’s major corporate adversaries and came out on top,” NSW/QLD state secretary, Richard Olsen, said.

“This case has set a precedent for holding corporations to account but also sent a powerful message about the paramount importance of health and safety representatives to ensure the safety and wellbeing of workers across Australia.”

Mr Seremetidis told media the safety of his colleagues was “non-negotiable”.

“I refused to let Qantas get away with its behaviour,” he said.

Last September, the High Court upheld a ruling that found Qantas illegally fired 1,700 ground staff at the end of 2020.

Qantas is also due to face proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for allegedly selling tickets to cancelled flights.

A case management hearing has been set down for mid-March.

TWU national secretary, Michael Kaine, said it is important Qantas continues to be held to account for its “illegal behaviour, its disregard for workers’ safety concerns during the pandemic, and its treatment of workers at large”.

“We need to see a complete cultural shift at Qantas and a Safe and Secure Skies Commission to restore balance, fairness and stability to our aviation industry.”

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member today!

Leave a Comment

You don't have credit card details available. You will be redirected to update payment method page. Click OK to continue.