Two sick days lead to mine worker's sacking

A MINE worker is locked in a legal battle against mining company Anglo Coal because the worker was sacked after taking two sick days.

Stephen Byrne, who worked at Dawson Mine at Moura, originally asked to take two days off in April last year as annual leave because he started feeling unwell in the lead-up to two night shifts.

When this was refused, he took them as sick days instead.

Mr Byrne, who is also the mine's union president, saw a doctor and obtained a medical certificate.

When he returned to work after two days off sick, he was sacked.

Mr Byrne took this to court with the support of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

A Federal Court judge found earlier this year that Anglo Coal did not breach the law, and Mr Byrne and the union are appealing this decision.

Evidence before the Federal Court said Mr Byrne had worked at the mine since August 2011 as a multi-skilled operator.

Mr Byrne has also submitted it was not uncommon for employees to apply for annual leave when they were feeling unwell because untaken sick leave was paid out at the end of the year, while annual leave was not.

But evidence from the mine's superintendent Andrew Lawn said when Mr Byrne's annual leave was rejected, Mr Byrne had said, "Fine - I'm going to be sick anyway".

The mine's manager, Tony Power, sacked Mr Byrne after finding the employee's attitude was a serious one because it demonstrated an attitude of "I will do what I like and when I like it".

At a hearing in Brisbane on Monday, CFMEU and Mr Byrne's lawyers argued other people helped influence Mr Power's decision to sack Mr Byrne.

Anglo's lawyers argued Mr Byrne was dismissed not because he was sick, but because he was dishonest.

The Federal Court has reserved its final decision, which will be delivered at a later date.

- APN NEWSDESK


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