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Club hit for back pay

Tuesday, 19th March, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

A union seeking "significant" back pay for former and current staff employed at the Democratic Club says it hopes to settle the case before it roceeds to a hearing.

The Town Employees' Union (TEU) claims the Democratic Club has been paying its bar staff at the wrong rate since 2006 and that current bar staff are being paid up to three levels below their proper classification.

The club is denying the claim, which was first raised by the TEU Secretary Rosslyn Ferry in January last year, and the matter is now before to the federal Industrial Relations Court.

"Our calculations indicate the amounts could be significant, both for the individual and in total," Ms Ferry said.

"It is a right at law, protected by the Fair Work Act, that every employee of every employer be paid the correct wages and entitlements."

Ms Ferry said court-ordered conciliation talks were scheduled for late next month and she was hopeful an "amicable settlement" could be reached without the need for a formal court hearing.

According to the union, the claim involves former and current bar staff who worked at the club from 2006 onwards.

"As there is, however, a limit on how far back an employee can claim, we urge former employees of the Demo Club to make urgent contact with the union to ascertain whether or not they are eligible to bring a claim against the club," Ms Ferry said.

"The union is also happy to discuss this matter with any current employee.

"It is in the interest of all concerned that we resolve this matter at the one time, so we encourage past and present employees of the Demo Club to make contact with us as soon as possible."

Democratic Club manager Karren Howe said yesterday the club had been trying for several months to resolve the issue before the TEU decided to take the matter to the Industrial Relations Court.

"At this stage the Demo Club has been requested to provide documentation to the TEU to allow the union to prove their allegations of underpayment to the club and the court," Ms Howe said.

She said the information was supplied to the court in late January and the club was still waiting on a reply from the TEU for the information that supports their allegations.

Ms Howe said it was "disappointing" the TEU had decided to go public with its claims "prior to any potential finding or wrong doing on behalf of the club".

"I find it difficult to understand how the TEU is able to publish these allegations in the media when there has been no proof or sufficient evidence to prove that the Demo Club is in fact underpaying its employees.

"The Demo Club values their employees and has always been compliant in dealing with all legislation and, more importantly, ensuring the health, safety and welfare of these employees.

"The club is eager to see this matter resolved and believed that the matter was being handled amicably by both parties and was looking forward to resolving this matter in the Conciliation Hearing to be held on Monday, 22nd April, 2013."

The dispute follows claims by the TEU in 2011 that an agreement offer the club made to staff, and which was eventually accepted, would leave them worse off.

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