The Guardian 23 March, 2005

Win for assaulted union delegate

A tribunal used "stereotyping of the worst kind" to deny compensation to a union delegate who went to the aid of an outnumbered security guard in a Narrandera pub brawl, the Supreme Court has found. Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) delegate, Antony Muilwyk, 57, needed 10 stitches in facial wounds after helping the guard escape assailants but the Victims Compensation Tribunal ruled his injuries would "not be unheard of in the robust pursuit of union endeavours".

The tribunal had awarded him $3600 for scarring but rejected his claim for shock because such experiences "should not cause a person of firm resolve, such as a union representative in the metal industry, too much psychological distress".

Stunned AMWU Secretary, Paul Bastian, said Muilwyk's union activities had consisted of "doing a really good job for his workmates over a number of years".

That a statutory tribunal had felt comfortable to discriminate against him so openly, Bastian said, was the result of prejudices being spread and fostered for political purposes.

"The tribunal's reasoning was outrageous because it undermined this man's standing and rights because he was a union delegate. It fostered a prejudice aimed at undermining the legitimate role of union delegates", Mr Bastian said.

He praised last week's NSW Supreme Court ruling that the tribunal had been "irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary" as well as wrong at law.

Justice Roderick Howie called it a "case of stereotyping of the worst kind".

He said a "clear error of law" ran through reasoning that rejected a psychiatrist's report, the testimony of Muilwyk's wife, and trivialised his injury as a "black eye".

The court had heard the fitter and turner tried to help the bouncer by holding a door open to facilitate his escape. Muilwyk, himself, was then assaulted by as many 10 men suffering bruising, scarring, lacerations and causing post traumatic stress disorder.

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