Appeal dismissed for ex-union official sacked for credit card misconduct

Former union organiser Nick Belan’s appeal of a Fair Work decision upholding his dismissal from the National Union of Workers NSW was rejected on Friday.
苏州美甲

Mr Belan was sacked from the NUW in May 2016 for alleged serious misconduct relating to misuse of a union credit card.

The move came after he admitted at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption in 2015 that, on a few occasions, he had made personal purchases using his union credit card, for which he did not reimburse the NUW NSW.

Among the expenses he was questioned about during the royal commission was a $255 Jetstar flight to Coolangatta for his daughter billed to his union credit card. Other expenses included restaurant bills for Machiavelli, The Olive Green Restaurant and Outback Jacks, as well as the cost of jewellery, a hotel stay and spending at whitegoods store The Good Guys.

Mr Belan applied to the Fair Work Commission in June 2016 for reinstatement to his role as a union organiser, claiming his dismissal was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.

During those proceedings, he argued that information he’d provided to the royal commission should be excluded from consideration by Fair Work.

The Royal Commissions Act protects a person from having their statements or disclosures from being used against them in civil or ciminal proceedings in court.

This was rejected in November 2016 by Fair Work Commission deputy president Lyndall Dean, who found the Fair Work Commission was “not a court”.

Mr Belan also asked for this application to be heard before a full bench of the commission, which was refused the same month.

In October 2017, Ms Dean rejected Mr Belan’s application for relief from unfair dismissal.

Mr Belan appealed on the grounds there were errors in that decision, as well as the two related decisions made in the course of the proceedings relating to the admissibility of royal commission evidence, and the decision not to refer that question to the full bench.

He contended that it was in the public interest to determine questions such as whether employers could rely on admissions made by employees in royal commissions when deciding matters of alleged misconduct, and for employees to know whether incriminating evidence given by them to royal commissions could be used to their detriment in proceedings before the commission.

A full bench of the Fair Work Commission on Friday upheld the earlier decisions, including that Fair Work was not a court and that evidence from royal commissions was permissible.

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