About ten years ago, a union organised 6 ex-employees of Complete Windscreens to tell the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) that none of them had been allowed lunch breaks (not even a 5-minute break) over the course of six years. We knew this to be incorrect. Complete Windscreens has GPS tracking units in each of its vehicles, which can print a readout of each vehicle’s location at any given time (accurate to within 10 yards and 1/10 of a second). These readouts verify when employees are performing work-related duties vs personal activities.
During the subsequent court case, which lasted six days, we presented 4000 pages of these readouts. These proved that these six employees had not only had their mandated 30-minute breaks, but had in fact each averaged 2 hours and 31 minutes off per day during the six-year period in question. In one embarrassing exchange, one of the plaintiffs, upon being shown evidence of his vehicle being parked at a pub for 2 hours and 14 minutes on a workday, suggested that he may have been fitting a windscreen, at which there was an eruption of laughter.
Another of the plaintiffs told the Court that when he became aware of how dishonest he would have to be, in the face of irrefutable evidence, told the union and the FWO that he wished to discontinue his involvement in the case. He was informed by a union organiser that if he did so, he would find himself in jail. He continued working for us during and for several years following the case, until his amiable departure to start his own business.
Meanwhile, the employee who made the accusation of underpayment was only working 25 hours a week. If he had received the same gross amount but worked 40 hours a week, it is true that his hourly rate would have effectively been $12.50 – but this was not the case.
At no stage did anyone question the accuracy of the GPS tracking. It is after all the same source used by governments and military installations.
The presiding judge, Justice Anthony Besanko, saw these above-mentioned facts as having no relevance – it seems judges have an aversion to actual evidence.
It’s fascinating what you get for your money by way of public servants.