Council denies unfair dismissal

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In order to avoid paying redundancy to an employee who had worked for it for 62 years, Launceston City Council is under suspicion of unfairly firing the 79-year-old. 

Rural Road Co-ordinator David Flynn, an employee of the council since he was 17, was fired for alleged breaches of workplace safety. However, Kath Ryman, of the Victoria–Tasmania branch of the Australian Services Union (ASU) claims that the council targeted David Flynn simply to avoid paying him a redundancy.

Mr Flynn would have received $100,000 for his 62 years of employment.

“The problem is that council have failed to genuinely investigate and consider evidence that was provided by the ASU to show that the same practices that constituted David’s alleged safety breaches are commonly used practices across the organisation,” said Ms Ryman.

Launceston City Council General Manager Robert Dobrzynski defended the council’s decision, saying it was regrettable, but it was also a last resort action. He would not provide details of Mr Flynn’s dismissal, however, he did state: “The council has a legal obligation to take decisive action to address repeated instances of unsafe work practices, particularly when numerous attempts have been made to provide support and training. In cases where we are forced to take this course of action, we follow a robust and procedurally fair process and the employee is provided with reasons behind the decision that has led to termination.”

Ms Ryman believes that the council made its decision after being privy to a recent review of his department that may have recommended making Mr Flynn’s position redundant.

Mr Dobrzynski denied Ms Ryman’s allegation that Mr Flynn was terminated to avoid a redundancy payout.

“I think it’s really rich for the union, who has a mantra of workplace safety as extremely important, as a priority, to be saying that because this person has been working for the council for 62 [years] that somehow different rules apply.”

“We do take workplace safety seriously.”

Read more at The Examiner.

Opinion: Hard to judge this one 

Without access to all the facts, it’s certainly difficult to make a decision about who is right or wrong in this situation.

David Flynn started work at age 17. He has been at the same council for 62 years. That makes him 79-years-old. So, hats off to Mr Flynn for his long career.

It is also worth mentioning that Tasmanian councils have a good history of employing older Australians, with many instances of senior workers having been employed by local government for 30–50 years. So, hats off to Tasmanian councils as well.

Whether or not this is a case of age discrimination, we may never know. Maybe the council was looking for a reason to dump Mr Flynn. Maybe Mr Flynn had made one too many mistakes and just wasn’t willing to undergo the necessary training to avoid making the same errors in the future. Maybe he endangered lives. Maybe someone just didn’t like him.

Maybe he deserved a little more respect because of the number of years he’d worked for his employer.

Whatever the reason for Mr Flynn’s dismissal, there is a mediation process available that is designed to effectively resolve these types of disputes. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) does have an effective means of mediating situations such as these, if only Mr Flynn had gone to the commission before seeking the backing of his union.

The ASU has certainly gained the attention of the media, but will it get a satisfactory result for My Flynn?

For more information on the AHRC and the Age Discrimination Act, visit www.humanrights.gov.au

What do you think of this situation? Do you think this treatment of Mr Flynn is unfair? Or do you feel that, if he was indeed in the wrong, that this is the right course of action for the council to take? Do you think that this is a case of Age Discrimination? What would you have done if you were in the council’s position?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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93 Comments

Total Comments: 93
  1. 0
    0

    Not hard to judge at all.
    After so many years of – obviously – diligent service he should receive his redundancy.
    Even if it could be conclusively proven that he overstepped the mark.

    Amazing & Frightening what MONEY does to people and organisations!

    WHO is right does NOT MATTER!!!
    WHAT is right MATTERS!!!

    • 0
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      I couldn’t agree more.
      What’s right is what matters.

    • 0
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      It matters that it is put right and it is right that it matters!!

    • 0
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      Could not have said it better! Agree sack him & give him the redundancy payment for his service- covers all bases!

    • 0
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      Council employees generally are a lazy lot who avoid work and/or work slow. We all have seen evidence of this over many years.
      This outcome is not too difficult to work out though and is more than likely a case of a greedy government employer trying to shaft an man who should have retired 10 years ago and not pay him his entitlements. When will it ever end? And then you have to listen to the council spokesperson berating the person they sacked.
      If this issue were of importance to councils, and governments generally, then councils would have standards for ALL OF THEIR EMPLOYEES, not just those who are approaching a payout which they are due.
      This stinks and shows all that is bad in our society. Lack of ethics and accountability.

    • 0
      0

      What I can say about Tasmanian Councils is that they have a deep respect for long service and dedication to duty.
      Next time you walk through parks in Tasmania take notice of the plaques erected for ex council employees. One read….In recognition of “John Smith” who retired from the Council in 1983. His 41 years of mowing the grass in this park was enormously appreciated. signed The Mayor.

    • 0
      0

      Looks like a perfect case of a tax payer/rate payer funded organisation continually employing an old goat way past his use by date probably in a job created just to allow his continued employment.

      It is the long suffering rate payers who deserve sympathy here.

    • 0
      0

      You can tell the majority of Councils have a Labor focus. If they run over budget well so what?! Simply increase the rates! I think many rate payers are grateful though that the carbon tax was repealed.

    • 0
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      What a despicable, disrespectful comment Hasbeen. I don’t know you or your circumstances, just like you don’t know David Flynn or his circumstances. He might well be capable of performing the duties as well as a much younger person could, YOU simply don’t know. I do know of a gent going back a few years who had been allowed to work on past retirement age because he had a young family to care for – and that was in the mining industry, working underground.
      I think it stinks the way they have gone about dismissing him like they did, on the surface seemingly just to save themselves some $$.

    • 0
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      Troll Frank strikes again. As normal it is Labor to blame.
      I saw a story about Vladimir Putin’s state owned TROLL FACTORY last night. Same deal as Frank.
      Councils generally are a law unto themselves and behave like pseudo criminals because they can. State governments are supposed to have control but refuse to intervene other than when the media comes after them. And we all pay and suffer.

  2. 0
    0

    Just because he has been there for 62 years doesn’t necessarily mean he was good at the job or he could have started to make lots of mistakes. Without knowing all the facts you can’t make any judgements either way.

    • 0
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      Ginty 01
      If he was “Not good at his job” he should/would have been sacked a long time ago.
      They had 62 years to do it !!!
      This judging by their current ruthless attitude!

    • 0
      0

      Agree Ginty. Without all the facts it is difficult to make sensible judgements.

    • 0
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      I agree that if there were issues with his performance, he should have been dismissed years ago. Provide a payment for his length of service (early retirement benefit or similar) as they may want to keep the position. Everyone can then move on

    • 0
      0

      So he wasn’t good at his job – so they kept him for 62 years. I’m with you…..

      The fact that he may have become less ‘efficient’ with age etc should impact on this, and the man should have been retired gracefully instead of being booted out like some dried-up old dog turd.

      When a council can afford to pay massive sums and perks to its flunkies in the office, and put out hundreds of thousands on trips for its councillors and such – it can afford to do the right thing.

    • 0
      0

      There is a difference between dismissal and retrenchment. The former is for bad abusers. The latter is for unsuitable workers who either are incapable of doing their job, have lost interest in it or have become too old to do it.

  3. 0
    0

    Loyalty should be a two-way street

    • 0
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      No such thing in this day and age – I’m sure if you did a survey of those on this site, many have been treated with often utter disdain and even insult after years of loyalty and integrity. That’s what this country has come to.

    • 0
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      No such thing anymore Strummer, loyalty went out the window when part time work was introduced. It amazes me the number of jobs that used to be fulltime, the jobs where if you managed to get one you could be sure if you performed your duties diligently then you were set for life, have now been made part time, just so the employer can save a dollar or two here and there. I’m one of those Trebor referred to, never took a sickie unless I was dying, always did my work and more often than not, a bit more besides. If ever there was something extra to be done, my employer knew I could be relied on to do it. But when the time came and the employer (make that employers, it happened twice) want to downsize, I was shown the door. It didn’t matter what I had contributed, it was just “Thanks for coming now bugger off.” No loyalty at all from either employer, to them I was just a number.

    • 0
      0

      At least you got a “thanks for coming”. There’s many don’t even get that!

  4. 0
    0

    Leave it up to the Individual – the Council and the Legislative bodies to work out. We do not know the full story or in fact all sides of the story so let it play itself out in the court of law.

    • 0
      0

      True, but it’s worth looking closely at this issue.

    • 0
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      Paulodapotter

      Look closely examine and comment when the full facts are known is my thought.

    • 0
      0

      I agree Dougie, that is the only way you can make a fair and commonsense judgement on a case such as this. The fall facts are not given here,we don’t know exactly what his job was or his terms of employment were, etc.,and as someone said , they have had a number of years to sack him for bad unsafe work practices if proven, and if others are doing this across the organisation, then why aren’t they all sacked. There must be more to it than what is given. Perhaps we should keep an eye on Launnie’s examiner for further episodes of this.

  5. 0
    0

    Why is a 79 yo getting a redundancy anyhow? Surely he should be retiring and making way to employ someone else who needs a job particularly someone like a young unemployed school leaver

    • 0
      0

      Our politicians expect us all to be working at 79 – are you going to be able to work at 79 years of age? This man deserves his $100k! Our government doesn’t care about our unemployed school leavers, it wants to bring workers in from overseas! Besides, Bronwyn Bishop received her payout!

    • 0
      0

      Well this mick must be a dick too.
      I agree with you Dickb. Nothing worse than seeing some of these old blokes coming to work and just turning up to get the money knowing unfair dismissal laws give them the freedom to collect their pay while leaning on others. in this case it seems like it is ,”hang around long enough hoping the employer gives you an extra golden handshake just to get rid of you”. We had one “old bloke” who was 73 working shift work and falling asleep during the meetings that he was running. Companies should have the right to pay off anyone over 70 who they no longer want. If you are capable at your job they will keep you and if you are marginal they should have the right to give you your marching/retirement orders. Yes I know Paulo you run your own business employing young people but for someone aged 79 and is hanging around because he has nothing better to do, well that’s just sad.

    • 0
      0

      Dickb and mangomick, how do you know whether Mr Flynn needed the job or not? How do you know whether he was ‘asleep on the job’ or not? How do you know whether he was just ‘hanging around’ or not?

      The truth is we don’t know. Anecdotal mutterings in the line of “I knew a bloke who….” are essentially meaningless. Equally so are all the could’ve, should’ve ought’as.

    • 0
      0

      No the truth is the Council don’t want/require/need him and if they did they would keep him on. With redundancy they don’t make the person redundant they make the position redundant. Obviously they still have a role they want filled and they want to fill it with someone else. These anti discrimination laws while good in some aspects are not good when it comes to cases like this one. The current anti discrimination laws leave themselves open to any old codger who decides he will just hang around as part of the furniture because he knows it is hard for an employer to get rid of them. Speaking generally and not specifically at this case, while age discrimination shouldn’t be tolerated there should be an avenue whereas employers can terminate old codgers when the company believes they are past their use by date. Old codgers cannot hang around because in their own mind they are still able to do a certain role even when those around them believe otherwise.

    • 0
      0

      mango: why don’t you tell me what you think of me. Really, I held you in higher esteem than this sort of thing.
      There is a strong argument for certain jobs to have a mandatory retirement age. 79 is too old for (hard?) physical work. This should have been a retire at 65 job.

  6. 0
    0

    This happened to a friend of mine who had the longest running fishing column in the Courier Mail and also Finance Editor. Just before he was to retire with a substantial redundancy package, he was fired on trumped up reasons along with ten others. It was part of the paper’s cost saving initiatives at the behest of that poor struggling owner, Rupert Murdoch. When he approached his union for assistance, he was told the union would not stand by him as they had done a deal with management not to bring industrial action in exchange for limiting the number of sackings. This man had provided diligent service for 40 years, paying his union dues and bringing enormous numbers of readers to the paper due to his highly popular and informative fishing column. This is the reason, I have avoided employment by others since my early working years, but have charted my own course. Still no guarantees, but at least I can avoid getting a cowardly king hit by the unscrupulous and know it’s my own fault if I screw up.

    • 0
      0

      That is LOW & how the rich get richer!

    • 0
      0

      Done a deal! They should have to declare such deals so workers know whether to be a member or not!

    • 0
      0

      Paulo that’s an interesting story. Your friend’s union did not come to his aid because they had been paid off. His 40 years service to his union and the community in the end meant nothing to his union.

    • 0
      0

      Same thing happened to me, and it went to court, and I got a pittance for it. My view was that I wanted my hard-earned job back and to be left alone to do it – not be the whipping boy for inept management who played the man and had no idea of playing the game.

      Union stood by me but the outcome wasn’t satisfactory in any way in reality. The idiot management lost arguably their best man and I was out with next to nothing and had to start again in a hostile job market.

    • 0
      0

      Yes so the union could not help because they had made a deal with your boss. Where have we heard that before and far too many times. I would expect resident union supporter geomac to prove me wrong any moment now.

    • 0
      0

      Frank: did you watch the news today. Apparently your employer’s Commissioner is heading the staged Royal Commission attack on Labor to smear Labor before the next election. Sound familiar? The Commissioner was going to give a speech to a Liberal Party fundraiser. Captain’s call again? Political corruption at work? Please explain.
      CEASE THE TROLL BEHAVIOUR!
      As I have stated on numerous occasions this blog has nothing to do with either Labor or Unions.

    • 0
      0

      oops! I almost forgot about resident union supporter mick. 🙂
      mick do you even know the facts surrounding Haydon’s invitation acceptance? When was the invitation received by Haydon and when was it accepted? Was it accepted with the knowledge that it was an $80 dinner with the balance after costs going to NSW Liberals? Let’s be reminded that the Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption should have been wound up well and truly before the Garfield Barwick dinner.

    • 0
      0

      mick, listen carefully and ell me who is being smeared?

      https://youtu.be/uiil5S7SdsY

  7. 0
    0

    IT STINKS!

  8. 0
    0

    This story raises more questions than it answers.
    Was Mr Flynn aware that he faced dismissal if he continued breaching safety regulations?
    If so, was he challenging his employer to cross the line?
    We will never know the full story but I fail to see age discrimination here.

  9. 0
    0

    Instances such as this are quite regular across Australia with all types of employers used purely to avoid having to make large payouts such as this one.
    If only this worker was a politician, then it would be a different result.
    scratchert

  10. 0
    0

    He should have received his redundancy no matter what. I am sure his predessors did when times were more honest. Our pollies always get their payouts even if they do a crap job.

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