Qantas sacked worker over Covid fears: court
Qantas has lost its bid to have a judge throw out a court case alleging the airline carrier acted illegally when it stood down a health and safety representative who raised concerns about cleaning aircraft inbound from China early in the Covid-19 pandemic.
The aviation giant had applied in February to have the case thrown out after a 10-day hearing in the NSW District Court in November.
The Crown prosecution alleged Qantas ground staff worker Theo Seremetidis was stood down at the beginning of the pandemic after he raised concern employees were at risk of contracting Covid-19 after cleaning passenger planes arriving from China.
The court case is assessing Qantas’ conduct and determining whether the company failed to provide proper workplace health and safety processes for its staff.
The court was told in November that Mr Seremetidis had raised concerns with his employer that Qantas ground staff at Sydney international airport were being required to clean aircraft arriving from China without adequate personal protective equipment, disinfectant or Covid-safe training.
He was later stood down after raising his concerns and advising cabin cleaners of their safety rights at the start of the pandemic.
The allegations against Qantas states the airline carrier was in breach of the NSW Work Health and Safety Act.
Mr Seremetidis was directed not to attend work until an investigation was completed by Qantas when he was stood down in February 2020.
He had been a Qantas employee since 2014 in the position of ground crew fleet presentation at Sydney international airport.
The prosecution alleges that in standing Mr Seremetidis down, he no longer had access to paid overtime or the workplace generally.
Qantas has pleaded not guilty in response to the four summonses.
It applied for a stay to be applied to all proceedings.
Judge David Russell dismissed the application on Wednesday and ordered the trial to resume in August.
He also reserved all costs of the application to be decided at the end of the proceedings.