A recent case before the Fair Work Commission provides a perfect example of why everyone needs to join a union.
Despite winning their case for unfair dismissal, two early education workers ended up out-of-pocket even though they received 21 weeks’ pay as compensation.
They had to pay for barristers to represent them during their three-day appearance at the Fair Work Commission. Legal fees sucked up all their compensation payout.
Having a union representative to negotiate on their behalf might have meant the matter could have been resolved out of court, avoiding the hefty fees.
Considering and ultimately rejecting the workers’ application for costs, Fair Work Commissioner Ian Cambridge observed that “very sadly . . . the cost of the litigation appears to have exceeded what should have been assessed to be a likely potential outcome”.
The commissioner in March found that the two long-serving Amity College workers were unfairly dismissed following a flawed misconduct investigation, Workplace Express reported.
“Sadly, with some realistic, conciliatory approach to negotiation of settlement, the applicants would have been likely to have moved the employer from its initial 15 weeks to an amount close or equal to what was eventually achieved, but without the costs associated with the hearing.
“In simple terms, a realistic assessment of a settlement of 15 weeks may have been considered to have produced a better outcome for the applicants than 21 weeks at arbitration,” the Commissioner said.
For more information: Asiye Oz v Amity College Australia Limited; Yildiz Kosaroglu v Amity College Australia Limited  FWC 5041 (20 August 2021)