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Workers win back pay

Tuesday, 30th July, 2013

TEU Secretary Ros Ferry (left) and Demo Club manager Karren Howe sign the settlement that ends a long-running wage dispute. TEU Secretary Ros Ferry (left) and Demo Club manager Karren Howe sign the settlement that ends a long-running wage dispute.

By Andrew Robertson

Almost 50 current and former staff employed at the Democratic Club will receive back pay after settling a long-running wage dispute.

The club has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to 46 current and former staff following court-ordered conciliation between it and Town Employees’ Union (TEU) which began in April.

The TEU claimed the club had underpaid the employees, in some cases for years, based on incorrect job classifications.

After talks failed to resolve the dispute the union took its claim to the Adelaide Industrial Magistrates Court late last year on behalf of eight bar staff who, the union alleged, had been underpaid since 1996.

When more current and former staff subsequently joined the claim the union described the under-payment as club-wide.

In a joint statement yesterday, the club and union said the dispute was resolved “in private negotiations” following court-ordered conciliation.

Both parties refused to disclose the payout figure, although TEU secretary Ros Ferry previously described the amount of back pay sought as significant.

Club manager Karren Howe said yesterday the money would be paid “in the near future”.

“The Club and the Union initially held differing views as to how particular duties fitted into the classification structure of our Enterprise Agreement,” Ms Howe said in the statement.

“We have now resolved those differences. Once we reached an understanding of the Union’s position we and our respective representatives worked well together to reach the point we are at today.

“Both the Club and the Union are grateful to the South Australian Industrial Relations Court and Commission for their assistance.”

Ms Howe told the BDT she was pleased that the dispute was settled and that it was “time for everyone to move on”.

During the dispute the parties were critical of each other, with the club criticising the union for making the dispute public and the union accusing the club of stalling negotiations.

Yesterday the parties said “a side benefit” of the resolution was the establishment of “a better relationship between the employer and the union which will promote workplace harmony”.

“While it took some time to arrive at the point we have, I wish to thank the Club for adopting a co-operative approach. These things are always best resolved outside Court,” Ms Ferry said.

“I’d also like to thank our members and especially wish to acknowledge the assistance of our delegate, Luke Dart.”

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