Monday, April 22, 2024

Trolley-collecting operator faces penalties of $130,000

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has secured more than $130,000 in penalties against a Victorian trolley-collecting operator.

The operator was deemed to have caused “financial and emotional hardship” to three workers by sacking them – then refusing to pay unfair-dismissal compensation.

Victorian man William Collen Hancock has provided trolley-collecting services in the Latrobe Valley area, including at retail sites in Traralgon and Morwell. He has been penalised $22,680. His company, WCH Services Pty Ltd, has been penalised a further $113,400.

The penalties are the result of three separate legal actions by the FWO. His company breached the Fair Work Act by failing to comply with three unfair-dismissal-compensation orders from the Fair Work Commission.

Hancock and his company failed to pay compensation amounts of $17,392 and $4446 to two employees who were unfairly dismissed in 2015. They also failed to pay $962 to a worker unfairly dismissed in 2016.

The workers contacted the FWO after not receiving their compensation.

The FWO repeatedly asked Hancock and his company to comply with the compensation order, but they refused.

In relation to one of the workers, Hancock told the FWO that he’d “rather go to jail than give (the worker) one more cent”.

Judge Hartnett also ordered Hancock and his company to pay $12,491 in FWO legal costs.

He found that Hancock and his company had caused the three workers “actual financial and emotional hardship”.

“The respondents have demonstrated no contrition or corrective action, in particular any action taken by the corporation to correct its illegal approach and change its behaviour,” Judge Hartnett said.

It is only the second time the FWO, or its predecessor agencies, have taken three legal actions against a business operator. The other operator to face three actions was also a trolley-collecting operator.

“Refusing to comply with a Fair Work Commission order to pay unfair dismissal compensation is completely unacceptable,” FWO Natalie James said.

Employers and employees can seek assistance at www.fairwork.gov.au or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. A free interpreter service is available on 13 14 50.

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