Launceston Airport in Tasmania has come under fire for the recent dismissal of one of its security officers, Caleb Withers, for carrying out his job of managing traffic flow and issuing parking tickets at the kerbside.
After receiving three complaints from drivers who were unhappy after being informed they were in a no-standing zone, would be getting a parking ticket, or couldn’t jump the taxi rank queue, Launceston Airport had him stood down, removed from the Airport prior to any investigation, and then security contractor ISS fired him.
Caleb had been employed at the airport since November 2021 and was responsible for enforcing parking regulations. He says dealing with hostile members is not uncommon. “No one likes getting a ticket. Every time I face an agitated passenger I always have to consider the possibility they might attack me. I have been assaulted, abused and had my life threatened,” he said.
Caleb was blindsided by his termination with no written or verbal warnings in relation to his interactions with the public having been issued prior to the dismissal. “My termination was a railroad. ISS made no effort to substantiate the claims made against me. I wasn’t given any warnings, I wasn’t given an opportunity to fix anything. Just fired,” he said.
“It was heartbreaking. I thought I was good at my job. I was proud to be earning an honest living, and I liked the people I worked with. It’s a real blow to my self-esteem.”
“Being fired for doing your job is completely unfair. This is a classic case of a contractor doing the client’s dirty work. It’s clear ISS have trashed Caleb’s rights because they’re too gutless to stand up to Launceston Airport,” said Damien Davie, United Workers Union Property Services Coordinator.
“Security officers play a crucial role in maintaining safety and security at our airports, and they deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. Caleb, with the full backing of his union behind him, is fighting this unjust termination. We call on ISS and Launceston Airport to do the right thing and reinstate Caleb immediately,” he said.
An unfair dismissal claim has been filed with the Fair Work Commission with arbitration likely to occur in April. Launceston Airport is owned by Australia Pacific Airports Corporation Limited (APAC), in which AMP Capital is the majority shareholder.
In the event Caleb is not reinstated and adequately compensated for his lost wages before then, a large-scale rally will take place at Launceston Airport.
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