Coppabella crash appeal
Miner says rep ‘created a mess” in unfair dismissal hearing.
Wednesday 04 October 2017
Former Coppabella coal miner Andrew Hill has failed in his attempt to appeal a decision earlier this year by the Fair Work Commission that found his dismissal was fair.
Mr Hill was employed as an electrician by Peabody at Coppabella mine but was dismissed in August 2016 because the mine's owners claimed he drove into a ‘restricted access area’ and failed to drive to weather conditions resulting in a collision that caused extensive vehicle damage.
In the original hearing, the Commission heard Mr Hill had received three earlier warnings before the incident that led to his dismissal.
The first concerned sleeping in his vehicle, the second related to a failure to pay attention at a pre-start meeting, and the third involved an allegation that Mr Hill had exceeded the speed limit at the mine by up to 15 kph on eleven occasions on one day.
After hearing arguments from both Peabody and Mr Hill’s legal representatives in the first hearing, the Commissioner concluded that there was a valid reason for dismissal.
However, Mr Hill appealed the commissioner's finding, and representing himself to a full bench of the Fair Work Commission, argued his previous warnings at Coppabella mine should not have been considered.
“Mr Hill contends that the Commissioner was wrong to accept the validity of, and place weight on, the third warning,” the FWC said.
“He submits that it was not proved that he, in fact, exceeded the speed limit on any of the relevant occasions on the day in question and he maintains that the third warning should not have been taken into account in considering whether there was a valid reason for his dismissal.
“Mr Hill also takes issue with his representative’s handling of the significance of the third warning in the proceedings before Commissioner Spencer, and states that at the hearing his representative and the company both ‘created a mess of it.”
However, after examining the details of the first case, a full bench of the Fair Work Commission found that the first decision was right and blocked Mr Hill’s attempts to appeal.
“We do not consider there to be an arguable case of a significant error of fact in the Commissioner’s decision, nor does it appear to us that the decision discloses a manifest injustice, or that there are broader issues of public significance.
“We do not consider that it is in the public interest to grant permission to appeal, and permission to appeal is therefore refused.”