April 10, 2024


In February, Qantas agreed to pay $21,000 for wrongly firing Theo Seremetidis, TWU member and a worker who spoke up about safety concerns during COVID-19. This is a big deal because it’s the first time a court is punishing an airline for breaking safety laws like this.

Qantas is the first company in Australian history to be criminally convicted for targeting an HSR — a huge win for health and safety reps everywhere.

Since Theo bravely stood up to Qantas in a first-ever criminal prosecution, other HSRs have come forward to take on employers. Congratulations to Theo – a true workplace hero.

In February 2020, Qantas suspended Theo for a year after he told workers to stop doing unsafe tasks. Back then, workers were cleaning planes from COVID-19 hotspots without proper gear or training, only using water and one cloth to clean surfaces. After Theo spoke up, safety inspectors confirmed these problems.

This case shows big companies like Qantas can’t break safety rules without consequences. It’s a reminder that all workers deserve to be safe, especially during tough times like a pandemic. 

And in another huge win for HSRs, the NSW District Court slapped Qantas with a hefty $250,000 fine for unfairly standing down Theo. This came only a week after Qantas agreed to pay for the loss and hurt he experienced while working at the airline. 

Judge Russell SC DCJ said the reasons for his verdict were the offences had “significant culpability”, there was a “gross power imbalance” between Qantas and a part-time worker acting as an HSR, and “the conduct of Qantas is shameful.”


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