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Employee Warned After Tweeting in Support of Staff Facing Penalty Rate Cuts

press release
11/7/2019

By Nick Hartman

An employee for a book publisher has been given a “first and final warning” after tweeting in support of bookshop staff who are facing a possible penalty rate cut, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The employee, an editor, sent out the tweet on 26 June. The tweet said ‘‘Staff from the publishing industry stand with booksellers as they face penalty cuts from July 1st! The staff at bookshops…deserve penalty rates – this industry can’t survive without its workers and readers standing together” together with a picture of her and seven colleagues.

Two days later, on 28 June, the employee was sent a letter from the book publisher. Shortly after, she deleted her tweet. On Tuesday, 2 July, the employee and employer had a disciplinary meeting, and she was issued an official warning.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance Union (MEAA) has defended the employee, accusing the company of over-reacting.

‘‘From our perspective, we view the treatment as pretty outrageous and discriminatory,” Adam Portelli, director of the MEAA said.

“All workers have the right to express themselves on important industrial issues. We will be lodging an adverse action claim with the Fair Work Commission. If PRH doesn’t do the right thing and withdraw the warning then we will escalate our action.’’

Well-regarded workplace relations lawyer Josh Bornstein has tweeted in support of the employee, calling the employer’s actions, “another £€#%’n disgrace”.

The publishing house involved in this case didn’t return a comment when requested by the Sydney Morning Herald. Meanwhile, the bookshop will go through with their plan to cut penalty rates.

This story comes in the wake of the ongoing fallout of Israel Folau’s as-yet unresolved sacking by Rugby Australia. In May, Folau was sacked after the he published an Instagram post that has been interpreted as condemning homosexuals.

Folau is currently in the process of taking Rugby Australia to court to challenge his dismissal on religious discrimination grounds, with his crowdfunded raising of $2 million in support of his court case indicative of the controversy caused by his sacking.