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Union slams club offer

Monday, 5th December, 2011

By Erica Visser

 A local union has criticised the Barrier Social Democratic Club for a new award offer which it says will leave employees worse off, despite the club enjoying a profitable year.

A vote will take place on Wednesday to decide whether staff will accept the new agreement. 

The initial offer was abandoned after a tied vote in August but Town Employees Union (TEU) Secretary, Rosslyn Ferry, said that the new offer was inferior to the last.

“The revised proposal is just as bad, if not worse, than the first proposal and no one in their right mind should accept it,” Ms Ferry said.

She said that casual and permanent part-time employees would be worse off under the agreement, as would new employees.

“The latest proposal freezes the penalty loading currently paid to these employees and then further reduces their rate by applying a lower wage increase than that offered to full-time employees,” Ms Ferry said.

“New part time employees will not receive any part of the existing 15 per cent loading and the loading for new casual employees will be reduced by almost 20 per cent which, in turn, would make these employees much cheaper to employ.”

Ms Ferry said that full-time workers would also be disadvantaged and that some overtime rates would be below the modern award.

However, the Democratic Club’s General Manager, Karren Howe, said that employees would receive a higher level of pay and conditions than the modern award.

“Our new rates of pay for existing employees will now include the current 15 per cent loading with an additional pay increase over the life of the agreement,” Ms Howe said.

She said that five out of the 45 of employees were represented by the TEU and the Club had consulted them and the union in the construction of a new award. 

She added that the tied vote in August may have been linked with administrative errors which confused some employees.

Ms Howe said if a majority of employees voted in favour of the agreement offer it would be sent to Fair Work Australia for approval.

Ms Ferry also criticised a comment by Ms Howe that in setting new awards the club had to take into account ‘the external environment’. 

She referred to the club’s substantial profits in the most recent annual report.

But Ms Howe said that the comments were valid if mandatory pre-commitment legislation was to be introduced next year.

The scheme was proposed by the Federal Government to combat gambling addiction and requires poker machine players to sign up before playing. 

Ms Howe predicted that the legislation would hurt the club.

“It is important to understand that whilst the club made a profit for the previous financial year, it is currently forecasting to make a lesser profit in the current financial year,” she said.

“With the proposed Mandatory Pre Commitment legislation decision still to be made, it is important for the club to plan for this legislation which could result in a reduction in revenue and consequently a reduction in profit.”

Federal independent Andrew Wilkie, who is working with the Government to introduce the legislation, has recommended that gambling venues with 15 or fewer machines and those in country areas be exempt from the scheme until 2018.

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