Australian high court rules in favour of dockers

05 May 1998

Australian high court rules in favour of dockers

AUSTRALIAS high court uphelp a lower court decision forcing a stevedore company to reinstate 1,400 sacked dock workers.

Patrick Stevedores dismissed the unionised labour force after the four subsidiaries, which technically hired the workers, were declared insolvent under a recent asset reshuffle.

The Maritime Union of Australia accused Patrick of illegally conspiring with the National Farmers Federation and the government to sack the workers and break the unions monopoly on labour.

It was the method of dismissal that provoked public outcry and generated fears among other industries that they too could be sacked in such a manner.

But the Financial Times says the higher court decision leaves the final outcome of the case in doubt. The court has placed the dismissed workers futures in the hands of the joint administrators of Patricks four shelf companies.

Patricks chairman Chris Corrigan, said the subsidiaries were under no obligation to rehire all the dismissed workers. The National Farmers Federation of Australia said it would offer to supply the administrators of Patrick Stevedores subsidiaries with its non-unionised labour services.

  • Financial Times 05/05/98 page 8
  • The Daily Telegraph 05/05/98 page 17
  • The Times 05/05/98 page 13

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