Hundreds of Jim’s Mowing workers join class action against Daniel Andrews’ government for forcing them to down tools during lockdown – and they want $20million compensation
- Jim’s Mowing workers to join class action lawsuit against Victorian government
- Founder Jim Penman said about 700 franchisees unfairly forced to stop work
- Premier deemed gardening ‘non-essential’ under Stage Four lockdown rules
- Mr Penman said he would be seeking $20million in the landmark legal case
The lawsuit is likely to be the biggest in Australian history, with one legal expert saying it would ‘dwarf’ any previous class action.
The managing partner of the law firm handling the case, Tony Carbone from Carbone Lawyers, said his clients would be seeking $20million in compensation.
Jim’s Mowing founder, Jim Penman, 700 of the company’s franchisees and self-employed tradespeople had lost about $3,000 in income a week since the Stage Four lockdown began in August 2020
Under the city’s strict Stage Four COVID-19 lockdown a raft of ‘non-essential’ businesses were told to stop work including gardening and lawn-maintenance
‘The bottom line is these gardeners should have been working, how is it possible that a gardener working on their own outside can infect anyone,’ Mr Carbone told Newscorp.
He argues the Daniel Andrews government’s decision making on who could and could not work during the lockdowns was ‘arbitrary’ and left thousands of people struggling financially.
Under the city’s strict Stage Four COVID-19 lockdown a raft of ‘non-essential’ businesses were told to stop work including gardening and lawn-maintenance workers under a decision by the Andrews government.
According to Jim’s Mowing founder, Jim Penman, 700 of the company’s franchisees and self-employed tradespeople had lost about $3,000 in income a week since the restrictions began 10 weeks ago.
He also claimed the Premier’s decision was arbitrary and has previously asked for proof gardeners working alone outside had been linked to any cases of coronavirus.
‘The Premier’s arbitrary action in ignoring the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services and barring sole operators from working, brought needless loss and misery upon many,’ Mr Penman said.
Mr Penman also claimed that council gardeners continued working in groups throughout the lockdown highlighting a double standard imposed by the government.
Mr Penman has been battling with the government over the rules preventing cleaners and gardeners in Melbourne from working during the second lockdown (pictured: People are seen exercising in a park Melbourne)
A gardener who was spotted mowing the lawn outside the office of Labor MP Chris Brayne during lockdown
‘Council workers are doing the same job, and in groups, yet my company and contractors are being prevented from earning a living – there is absolutely a legitimate claim for compensation here.’ Mr Penman previously said.
‘I’m not happy taxpayers will have to pay once we proceed legally, but my workers are being denied a chance to work, earn a living, pay taxes and contribute to the economy.’
Mr Penman and Carbone lawyers have agreed to a ‘no-win-no-fee’ contract with the law firm getting a 10 per cent fee of any payout.
‘Yes I’ve lost a bit of money during this but I’m not interested in getting that money back, I just want every one of my franchisees to get every cent back because they’re the ones who are doing it tough and going through a lot of financial pressure,’ Mr Penman said.
Melbourne’s Stage Four rules were slightly eased on September 28 with gardening and landscaping businesses allowed to return to work.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Victorian Premier’s office for comment.
Mr Penman founded the Jim’s Mowing brand in 1982 which has grown into one of the country’s most successful franchise groups
Melburnians (pictured) have endured 10 weeks of Stage 4 lockdown