Win for Plaza security guards in redundancy dispute
More than a dozen former Sunshine Plaza security guards are in line to receive redundancy payouts, more than six years after losing their jobs.
Cleaning and security guard services provider Spotless this week lost its Federal Court appeal, in what has been described as a "landmark victory" for contract workers.
The dispute involved 14 security guards who lost their jobs in 2014 after Spotless lost a contract with Sunshine Coast Plaza, which it previously had for 14 years.
They claimed to be owed $110,000.
It also involved workers in a similar situation at the Perth Airport.
All three judges upheld a ruling in January that Spotless could not refuse to pay redundancies if an employee loses their job as a result of the loss of a contract.
The court rejected Spotless' defence that the job losses were part of the usual turnover of labour in the industry.
One of the former shopping centre security guards, Tony Bush, said workers should not have had to go to court to receive the payouts.
"We were employed as permanent full-time employees," he said.
"I myself was employed for six years and some other guards at Sunshine Plaza had been employed on the same basis for over 10 years.
"It is disgusting that it has taken nearly six years to settle this."
Under the Fair Work Act, companies do not have to pay redundancy if a job loss is part of the "ordinary and customary turnover of labour", which means contract services staff often do not get paid because the industry's model is based on winning and losing contracts.
But Spotless had broadly applied that exemption to workers on long-held contracts, including the plaza contract and a 12-year contract at a Perth Airport.
United Workers Union property services director Lyndal Ryan said the ruling meant employers should not deny redundancy payments to employees who lose their jobs because the employer has lost a particular contract.
She said the union had more than 100 members across the country with $670,000 worth of redundancy claims in similar circumstances.
A spokesperson for Spotless said the company would review the decision.