A 64-year-old steelworker forced onto Centrelink after losing a fight over his dismissal from BlueScope is going to take on the company again.
Trevor Knowles, who had worked at the steelworks for more than 30 years, was sacked by the Port Kembla steelmaker in October last year after a claimed safety breach.
BlueScope said Mr Knowles, who was operating a crane moving steel coils, damaged one of them and created a risk of it toppling over.
That combined with a final warning on his file a year earlier was enough for him to be sacked.
Mr Knowles lodged an unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission and won in May this year.
I'm 65 next month, who's going to employ a 65-year-old? With all this COVID there's no jobs out there at the moment so I'm just left in limbo.
But after a few months back at work, he was out of a job again after BlueScope successfully appealed the decision.
"It's stressful," Mr Knowles said. "I thought I'd get my job back. I though I'd be back at work by now.
"I thought, I've won the case, and then BlueScope appealed it. And then they turned over the decision - it just seemed so harsh."
It's forced Mr Knowles to sign on for unemployment benefits for the second time this year; he received them after his sacking but they cut off when he was reinstated.
"I've spent all day at Centrelink trying to get back on the bloody dole," he said.
"I've got nothing coming in now. When I took it to Fair Work, I was on Centrelink because I wasn't being paid. Then I had to stop Centrelink because [BlueScope] started paying me for 12 weeks.
"But to go back onto Centrelink now after all this rigmarole, it makes it twice as hard."
But not as hard as it will be trying to find another job, especially with thousands of other people out of work due to COVID-19.
"I'd been there 32 years and now I'm sitting back doing nothing," he said.
"I'm 65 next month, who's going to employ a 65-year-old? With all this COVID there's no jobs out there at the moment so I'm just left in limbo."
Australian Workers Union NSW senior vice-president Paul Farrow said they would be asking the Federal Court to review the Fair Work Commission's appeal decision.
If they are successful, Mr Knowles' case would return to the commission.
"It's not something that's done frequently," Mr Farrow said of the decision to take the case to the Federal Court.
"But it's not an unusual step for the AWU to deal with a company that continually appeals decisions of the Fair Work Commission either. Given that Trevor won his initial case it's unusual for a company to appeal those decisions to a full bench."
Mr Farrow said the 64-year-old steelworker had been hit hard by BlueScope's appeal.
"When he won his case initially he was over the moon," Mr Farrow said.
"To have it ripped away from him by an appeal is probably worse [than if he lost in the first place].
"When you go before the Fair Work Commission initially you might win, you might lose - you're prepared for that. When you win and you go through the celebrations and some months later you get it ripped away from you, it's worse than if you lost the first time."
BlueScope was contacted for comment.
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