Council caught cold

A STIRLING council staffer has won an unfair dismissal case over MacGyver-style fixes he made to air cons in beach vehicles.

Back in the summer of 2016/17, the city’s beach inspectors were sweltering in their Mazda utes because some air cons were only pumping out hot air.

A few inspectors were concerned it was a health and safety issue.

Inspector Kevin Emery, who had been at the city for six years,  was regarded as a good employee by his bosses and was also a bit of a MacGyver with a background in auto-electrics.

After doing some research online he installed a bridging wire in the faulty air cons, making them blow out cold air whenever they were turned on.

But shortly afterwards one of the compressors burned out, costing the city about $1900 to repair. The city sacked Mr Emery for carrying out the unauthorised modifications.

He appealed to the Fair Work Commission, saying the mod wouldn’t have caused any damage and that his manager had authorised it (which he denied).

The commission found a major failing of the city’s investigation was that the manager who said he didn’t approve the mod was the one doing the investigation.

The FWC said that gave the manager a “clear motivation” to deny authorising it, now that something had gone wrong.

On April 26 this year, more than two years after the wires were installed, the FWC found “reinstatement is impractical” and ordered the city to pay Mr Emery about $15,500–80 per cent of the three month’s wages he’d lost.

He would’ve got nearly $19,300, but the FWC said even if the city’s investigation was unfair, he still shouldn’t have modified the air cons.

by DAVID BELL

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