FULL BENCH OF THE SUPREME COURT DISMISSES BLUE RIBBON'S APPEAL
In April 2003 the Tasmanian Branch of the Meat Workers Union brought proceedings in the Tasmanian Industrial Commission seeking to have 17 workers from the Blue Ribbon Products plant reinstated to their former positions. These workers were sacked and locked out in April 2003 after not agreeing to become so called 'Independent Contractors' with no award rights or conditions.
In a landmark decision in October 2003 Deputy President Shelley of the Tasmanian Industrial Commission made orders against Blue Ribbon Products and Newemploy directing both companies to reinstate the workers concerned and pay lost wages.
These workers and their supporters maintained a picket line through one of the coldest winters in Tasmania's history until the release of the decision in October 2003.
Both companies immediately sought to have Deputy President Shelley's decision quashed in the Tasmanian Supreme Court, arguing Deputy President Shelley's decision had made errors of law and had gone beyond the powers of the Act.
Justice Blow of the Tasmanian Supreme Court dismissed both applications by Newemploy and Blue Ribbon Products. The Supreme Court ruled that Deputy President Shelley made no errors of law, nor did she go beyond the powers she has under the Act in making the orders she did.
Newemploy has gone in to liquidation with over $600,000 in debt with $800 in assets and Blue Ribbon has continued on its appealathon not accepting Justice Blow's decision taking their case to the full bench of the Tasmanian Supreme Court. "These companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers trying to thwart industrial justice whilst 17 ordinary Tasmanian workers and their families have been without incomes for over 17 months in an industrial obscenity" Mr Courtney said.
The Killafaddy 17 were vindicated where their claims for lost wages and entitlements were accepted through the General Employee Entitlement Scheme earlier this year.
Throughout the last 21 month ordeal the Tasmanian Branch of the AMIEU has continued to try and seek a settlement from these anti union bed fellows and all this company has done is pumped more money into the coffers of the legal fraternity. The court also ordered that Blue Ribbon pay our legal costs that are substantial but are miniscule in light of what Blue Ribbon has pumped in to their army of barristers and lawyers.
The dismissal of Blue Ribbon's appeal to the Supreme Court of Tasmania (Full Court) throws out a message to all of those dubious grubby companies who think they can avoid their award obligations to their workers that they won't get away with it in this state.
The Killafaddy 17 have rewritten the Union Movement's history pages as this decision will be used in future attacks against ordinary workers across Australia as a precedent that workers have a right to work under an award system. "They have been commended and are heroes of the Trade Union movement", Courtney said.
Whilst there is a slight possibility of Blue Ribbon applying to the High Court for special leave to appeal, the Tasmanian Branch of the AMIEU and the Killafaddy 17 have won a huge victory over the dubious employment practices previously used by this company.
A copy of the decision is available on: