November 16, 2023

UNION WIN! First-Ever Prosecution For Targeting Health and Safety Representative

In a huge win for workers, Qantas has been found guilty of illegally targeting and standing down TWU member and health and safety representative (HSR) Theo Seremetidis.

Theo was stood down for directing colleagues to cease unsafe work – an important right HSRs have under the WHS Act. The TWU involved SafeWork NSW and urged them to criminally prosecute Qantas for its actions.

This was the first ever criminal prosecution of its kind in Australia – and this win strengthens the protections that HSRs and all workers need to make sure their workplaces are safe.

The Judge found Theo to be a ‘favourable witness’ who “attempted to carry out his duties as an HSR conscientiously and carefully.”

Congratulations to a true workplace hero.

Theo, as a trained and elected HSR, stood up for his fellow workers just as other HSRs around the country do every day. Not only did he stand up for his colleagues, he also stood up to Qantas, one of the biggest corporate bullies in Australia—and won.

By standing down Theo, Qantas again showed its utter disregard for workers’ safety and their legal rights. The successful prosecution of Qantas is a huge win for workplace safety everywhere, and a message to other companies that union members will stand up for each other and their rights. 

TWU President and NSW/Qld Secretary Richard Olsen said:

“This is a fantastic result. Theo is a workplace hero and today he has been vindicated. When the TWU urged SafeWork NSW to prosecute this case, Theo courageously took on one of Australia’s biggest corporate bullies and won.

“Theo always acted diligently to protect his colleagues, and the evidence brought in this case proved that he thoroughly researched the risks, asked the right questions of his employer, and requested protective equipment and training for workers cleaning planes from covid hotspots. Qantas not only ignored the concerns of Theo and his colleagues, but set out to punish and silence him for acting in his role as a highly trained HSR.

“We congratulate Theo and SafeWork NSW for leading this unprecedented prosecution which has inspired others to come forward.”


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