An attempt by a sacked Oceana Gold employee to claim costs for an Employment Relations Authority hearing has backfired, costing him more than the company was ordered to pay him.
Terry Watson, a qualified electrician in South Africa, was responsible for the electricians at the Reefton goldmine despite not obtaining a New Zealand electrical trade certificate.
After complaints from other staff, and hearing that Mr Watson had "bullied" one electrician and tried to get him to withdraw a complaint, management terminated his employment.
Mr Watson had claimed unjustified dismissal, and at a hearing earlier this month the authority agreed with him, but then ruled that his behaviour had "contributed significantly" to his dismissal, reducing the amount of compensation from about $28,000 to $7226.
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In a later action, Mr Watson asked the authority to order the company to pay his costs of $7000 and $378 disbursements.
In response, Oceana Gold sought from Mr Watson costs of $7000 and disbursements of $5915, as some of its witnesses had to travel from overseas for the hearing.
The company argued that it had initially offered a settlement with him, which would have recorded the termination as a resignation not dismissal, paid for his New Zealand certification, plus $13,000 compensation and $5000 towards his costs.
However, Mr Watson rejected that, forcing Oceana Gold to spend $27,152 defending itself at the hearing.
The company responded by asking that its former employee pay back $7000. The authority agreed that was a fair figure, ordering him to pay $7000 in Oceana's costs and $1601 disbursements.
- The Greymouth Star