The Fair Work Commission has ordered BP to reinstate a worker sacked for privately sharing a Hitler parody video.
Scott Tracey lost his job after sharing a version of the Downfall parody video during long-running pay negotiations at BP’s Kwinana refinery in Western Australia.
Mr Tracey, who will also be compensated for lost earnings, used the meme format to satirise the enterprise bargaining negotiations process at the refinery.
He distributed the parody video to a private Facebook group of friends and colleagues. He also showed it to other workers on night shift with him at the Kwinana refinery.
BP sacked Mr Tracey after an investigation found he had been “involved in creating an offensive and inappropriate video depicting BP representatives involved in the current negotiations as Nazis”.
In September 2019, Fair Work Commission deputy president Melanie Binet rejected Mr Tracey’s initial appeal, saying she was satisfied the video was “objectively inappropriate” and offensive to some BP workers.
The Australian Workers’ Union appealed Ms Binet’s ruling. On Friday, the full bench of the FWC found it was not reasonably open for the video to be characterised in the way Ms Binet had.
The meme video, which has been popular across the internet since 2005, involves users adding their own subtitles to a clip from the 2004 German film Der Untergang (Downfall), which centres on Adolf Hitler’s final hours.
“Anyone with knowledge of the meme could not seriously consider that the use of the clip was to make some point involving Hitler or Nazis,” the FWC full bench said in its ruling.
It said the video “did not liken BP management to Hitler or Nazis in the sense of stating or suggesting that their conduct or behaviour was in some sense comparable in their inhumanity or criminality”.
The full bench found Mr Tracey’s sacking was unjust and unreasonable because there was no valid reason for it. It ordered the technician be reinstated, and BP must compensate him for lost earnings.
In 2009, the Britain’s Telegraph newspaper published a list titled “Hitler Downfall parodies: 25 worth watching”.
In 2010, Der Untergang director Oliver Hirschbiegel said he had watched 145 of the parody videos and he found them hilarious.