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Company ‘told to answer union claim ’

Thursday, 23rd June, 2011


By Craig Brealey

The federal industrial umpire has told a contract company that it must answer a claim by a local union that most of the catering and laundry staff working at Southern Cross Care want the union to represent them.

A “clear majority” of the staff at the St Anne’s, Harold Williams and Aruma Lodge homes have formally declared their desire to be represented by the Town Employees’ Union, said the union’s secretary, Ros Ferry.

Ms Ferry said the union had collected the signatures of 32 employees and sent this evidence to the Compass Group.

Southern Cross Care has contracted its laundry and catering services to Medirest, a subsidiary of the multinational Compass Group, for the next three years. 

Ms Ferry said that when Compass failed to reply to the TEU by the deadline on Monday this week the union informed Fair Work Australia (FWA). (FWA replaced the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in 2009).

According to Ms Ferry, FWA has now told the Compass Group that it has until the end of next week to reply.

If Compass does not reply, FWA may order Compass to start negotiating the new industrial agreement with the TEU, Ms Ferry said.

The union yesterday sent FWA proof that the majority of employees wanted the union to negotiate on their behalf, she said.

“FWA can make its determination by the end of next week.

“We have the signatures of 32 Medirest employees in Broken Hill who have requested that we negotiate a collective agreement. 

“This is a clear majority and includes union members and others who are not members of the union.

“We are hopeful that the Compass Group will make a commitment to negotiate but if they don’t then the FWA will make that determination for them.”

Ms Ferry said the TEU was also about to start negotiating a new agreement with Southern Cross Care and that the union would try to have it cover the workers now employed by Medirest under its three-year contract .

“We have already flagged that it must include catering and laundry staff in case Southern Cross Care resumes the catering and laundry services,” Ms Ferry said.


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