The Australian Workers' Union has hailed a victory for the larrikin spirit after the Federal Court upheld the Fair Work Commission's decision to reinstate a worker who was sacked by BP over making a 'downfall' meme.
Scott Tracey was sacked by BP Kwinana management in Western Australia after making a meme sending up management using the popular 'downfall' format and sharing it among his workmates. BP alleged Mr Tracey had intentionally likened his bosses to Nazis.
Australian Workers' Union National Secretary Daniel Walton said while it was a shame BP had dragged the matter out, Mr Tracey's victory was a relief.
"Mr Tracey has had to endure nearly two years of stress and uncertainty about his livelihood, because a few stuffed shirts didn't get a joke and chose to dig in even when it was pointed out to them," Mr Walton said.
"The meme Scott Tracey used has been appropriated thousands upon thousands of times to poke fun at sport, culture, politics, and everything else. For BP to seriously allege Mr Tracey was actually comparing management to Nazis is embarrassing. But to drag this out has been pigheaded, mean spirited, and foolish.
"BP converted a silly error into a blunder, and I'm extremely pleased to see the decision go Mr Tracey's way today. BP owe him, and the whole workforce, a sincere apology.
"Australian workers have always been able to take the piss out of their bosses, with their colleagues, in their own time. For BP management spend so much time arguing otherwise reveals real arrogance."
AWU WA Secretary Brad Gandy said the correct decision had been reached.
"I am relieved this whole matter is over for Mr Tracey, but it's such a shame BP dragged it this far when they could easily have chosen to drop the whole thing," Mr Gandy said.
"While I feel for Mr Tracey, the result of his ordeal is a victory for Australian working rights in the modern era. It shows Aussie larrikin values are not dead yet despite the best efforts of multinationals like BP.
"West Australians should always be able to share a private joke about management in their own time. If the boss happens to catch it they should be big enough to laugh it off - not drag it through the courts for two years."