“If I hadn’t been in the union, I don’t know what I would have done.”
Last year members at Allwater were engaged in a bitter and long-running industrial dispute while bargaining for a new Enterprise Agreement.
On 8 December 2015, members took protected industrial action and walked off the job.
At the time emotions were high, and United Voice member Michael Treen left a voicemail for a co-worker who had chosen to work, calling him a “scab”.
When matters had calmed down the next day, Michael apologised.
Despite this, on 15 December 2015, Michael was dismissed by his employer Allwater.
He had just reached seven years of service, with no disciplinary action against him previously.
“I was shocked. My wife and I couldn’t believe it.”
Michael contacted United Voice straight away, and United Voice lodged an unfair dismissal application on Michael’s behalf in the Fair Work Commission.
“From day one, I knew I wanted my job back.
“At fifty, it’s hard to find full time employment, so that’s what I was most worried about.
“I was able to find some casual work, but I never knew when I was going to be working or how long it was going to last.
“I was only doing 3 or 4 days a week, and it was getting hard to pay the bills.
“I was really demoralised.
“My workmates were amazing - they even had a raffle before Christmas to help me out while I wasn’t getting work.”
Allwater refused to reinstate Michael, so the matter went to trial.
On May 2, 2016, the Commission found that dismissal was a disproportionate response to Michael’s conduct, and that Allwater had also failed to consider his good service and work performance.
Allwater was ordered to reinstate Michael within 14 days.
“When I found out that I had gotten my job back, I was jumping for joy.
“Coming back to work was a great feeling. I work with a great bunch, and they all welcomed me back
“That’s what my workmates are like, and that’s why I was so glad to go back.
“I just want to thank the legal team and everyone at the union for listening to me and working so hard to get me reinstated.
“If I hadn’t been in the union, I don’t know what I would have done.”Back to News