An Amazon forklift driver claims he was sacked for joining a union.
As a result, the worker has filed a general protections claim involving dismissal in the Fair Work Commission.
He argues his union activity is a protected workplace right, making the dismissal unlawful.
Worker sacked for joining a union
Labour hire company Adecco employed Raj to work at Amazon’s Sydney fulfilment centre.
He became the first warehouse worker to join the the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).
A number of his co-workers subsequently joined up.
Raj claims supervisors directed him not to wear a union cap and lanyard to work.
He also says Adecco representatives objected to union organisers distributing promotional material to workers.
A dispute over his hours of work led to Raj getting into a workplace a dispute with his employer.
He met a union official in the Amazon Sydney fulfilment centre on 5 October, with a member of management present in the lunch room.
Adecco dismissed him on 9 October, but denies the dispute over work hours or union activity were the reason.
Raj claims Adecco expressed their happiness with his work.
“It is unfair treatment just because I’m in the union.
“I need to pay the bills … so I need a job, without a job you can’t survive.
“What happened to me was not fair. I just want to get back to work at Amazon.”
Both the SDA and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) have joined forces to organise workers on Amazon work sites.
The company attracted widespread criticism for its decision to hire warehouse workers through Adecco on Award rates when it launched in Australia last year.
Unions want the company to employer workers directly and bargain with them collectively.
In November, Amazon workers protested in the UK over complaints about its warehouse working conditions.
For example, workers allege the company refused them enough time for bathroom breaks.
Adecco and Amazon response
A spokeswoman for Adecco said:
“Adecco respects our workers’ rights to freedom of association, and the exercise of such rights.
“In no circumstances would Adecco take action against our workers for exercising these rights.”
A spokesman for Amazon said the allegations about working conditions by the SDA are “untrue and sensationalist”.
“Amazon respects its associates right to choose to join or not join a labour union.”
The SDA New South Wales secretary, Bernie Smith, said:
“We are not going to accept the sacking of a worker, who joined the union, who just wants to work enough hours to support his family.
“We have serious concerns about Amazon from what we have heard from unions overseas.”
The Transport Workers Union national secretary, Michael Kaine, said unions will “not tolerate the downgrading of jobs in Australia by Amazon”.
“Our aim is to ensure Amazon workers in Australia are highly organised and acutely aware of their own rights and the company’s responsibilities.”
Raj’s case is expected to be heard by the Federal Court in the new year.
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