Queensland Judgments
Authorised Reports & Unreported Judgments
Exit Distraction Free Reading Mode
  • Unreported Judgment

State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) v Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees[2019] QIRC 69

State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) v Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees[2019] QIRC 69

QUEENSLAND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION

CITATION:

State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) v Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees [2019] QIRC 069

PARTIES:

State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services)

v

Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees 

CASE NO:

CB/2019/25

PROCEEDING:

Application for an Order to terminate protected industrial action

DELIVERED ON:

16 May 2019

HEARING DATE:

2 May 2019

MEMBER:

HEARD AT:

Pidgeon IC

Brisbane

ORDER:

  1. The Application is dismissed.

CATCHWORDS:

INDUSTRIAL LAW - APPLICATION FOR TERMINATION OF PROTECTED INDUSTRIAL ACTION - Whether protected industrial action threatens or would threaten to endanger the personal safety or health or welfare of part of the State's population

LEGISLATION:

Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld), s 241

APPEARANCES:

Mr T Makamure for the Applicant

Mr M Thomas for the Respondent

Ex Tempore Decision (as edited)

  1. [1]
    Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) filed an application to suspend protected industrial action being engaged in by staff at the Capricornia Correctional centre today, between 1.00pm and 7.00pm. The Order was sought on the basis that the action threatens to endanger the life, personal safety or health or welfare of a part of the state's population. Here, the population consists of offenders incarcerated at and employees engaged at Capricornia Correctional Centre (CCC).
  1. [2]
    This application also sought an interim order, however as the stoppage was due to conclude in 2.5 hours at 7.00pm on the day of the hearing, the matter was determined at hearing to do away with the need for an interim order.
  1. [3]
    The action being taken by Together members at the CCC is protected industrial action. To suspend or terminate protected industrial action, s 241(1)(a) of the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (the Act) states:

241  Suspension or termination if life, property, health or welfare is endangered

  1. (1)
    The commission must, on application by a person mentioned in subsection
  1. (2)
    suspend or terminate protected industrial action for a proposed bargaining instrument being engaged in, or threatened to be engaged in, if satisfied the industrial action has threatened, is threatening or would threaten—
  1. (a)
    to endanger the life, personal safety or health, or welfare of the State’s population or part of it;
  1. [4]
    QCS notified the Industrial Registry of the dispute Tuesday 30 April 2019. A conference was held and an in-principle agreement was made regarding contingency arrangements for centres during protected industrial action. QCS requested a further conference Thursday 2 May 2019 to discuss the action due to commence that day. I first heard of the request for the conference at about 11.45am. The parties met at 12.30pm and discussed the significant efforts on behalf of both parties to put in place contingency arrangements in line with those which were subject to an in-principle agreement, made during initial conference on Tuesday.
  1. [5]
    During the second conference it was established that a contingency team had been unable to be formed in terms of volunteers or other workers and QCS intended to file an application under s 241 of the Act, including an interim order, to suspend the protected industrial action.
  1. [6]
    It was my expectation that the application was going to follow quickly after the conclusion of the conference Thursday afternoon. I issued a recommendation to the union, including their delegate at the CCC, Mr Boal, who had been dialled in during the conference. The recommendation was issued verbally at conference, with a sealed written version issued to parties shortly thereafter - which stated that there be a team of six custodially trained staff available for contingency.
  1. [7]
    During conference I had been informed of a small number of officers en route to Rockhampton from Maryborough, and that there were a small number of staff onsite at the centre, with police in attendance at the time, though it was noted that there was a possibility that police may be called away for other reasons.
  1. [8]
    During the hearing held Thursday evening 2 May 2019, I was provided with information regarding the staffing situation at the centre and it's my understanding that with one hour of the action left, there are several staff who are referred to as management or senior staff, as well as some correctional officers from Maryborough and three police officers nearby to the perimeter of the CCC.
  1. [9]
    The application was made some hours into the six-hour action, and given the reported number of staff present at the centre at that point, I am not satisfied that s 241(1)(a) had been met, specifically I am not satisfied that the action is threatening to endanger the life, personal safety or health or welfare of part of the state's population. While it's a very important consideration to make, it's a very high bar to meet, particularly when the request is being made that people cease to take action that they're taking in a protected way.
  1. [10]
    In any case, even if the Order were to be issued, it must have some utility, and Mr Thomas described the practical issues involved with issuing such orders when there is little more than an hour of the action left, and it is my view that there would be little chance that an Order, if issued, would result in what the QCS are seeking this afternoon.
  1. [11]
    The Order being sought is clear, seeking to lift the action being taken at the CCC in its entirety, and while I note the comments that were made regarding the desire to only end up with a team of six in terms of the contingency, I cannot see a practical way to issue an Order that basically means that after the first six officers arrive back to work, no one else is required.  Had the application for an Order come in a different form, then there may be some hope of it being implemented in a practical way, but I just cannot see the utility in issuing such an Order, particularly at this late stage in the action.
  1. [12]
    I'm conscious, as mentioned previously, that these QCS workers are participating in protected action. The required notice of the action was given the afternoon of Friday 26 April 2019. There have been multiple days since and two conferences held to canvass these issues, time enough to do so well short of an hour before the action is due to end. Information was provided that there were some contingencies put in place by QCS since 1.00pm 2 May 2019.
  1. [13]
    I am not going to grant the application for the Order and as the application has been dealt with, there is no need for the interim Order.
  1. Application for an Order to suspend protected industrial action is dismissed;
  1. No interim Order is required.
Close

Editorial Notes

  • Published Case Name:

    State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) v Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees

  • Shortened Case Name:

    State of Queensland (Queensland Corrective Services) v Together Queensland, Industrial Union of Employees

  • MNC:

    [2019] QIRC 69

  • Court:

    QIRC

  • Judge(s):

    Member Pidgeon IC

  • Date:

    16 May 2019

Appeal Status

Please note, appeal data is presently unavailable for this judgment. This judgment may have been the subject of an appeal.

Require Technical Assistance?

Message sent!

Thanks for reaching out! Someone from our team will get back to you soon.

Message not sent!

Something went wrong. Please try again.