Crown Staff strike Pay deal for Nights, Weekends and Holiday work

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
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Following months of private negotiations and public protests, employees at the Crown Casino in Melbourne have won major wage and scheduling concessions from the gambling conglomerate.

Per the reporting of Nick Toscano for the Sydney Morning Herald, Crown Melbourne executives have agreed to grant the casino’s 5,500-strong unionised labor force “recognition allowances” for working certain shifts or schedules.

Specifically, every Crown employee with membership in the United Voice Casino Union – a group which includes gaming dealers and croupiers, cashier’s cage staff and chip counters, hotel agents and staff, restaurant workers, and more – will receive biannual distributions equal to 0.5 percent of their overall annual earnings.

According to a statement issued on the union’s website, additional compensation bonuses and improvements to employment terms are as follows, pending approval from the Fair Work Commission:

“Crown workers will receive 3.75 percent pay increases every year for the next three years (with backpay), a recognition allowance paid twice yearly, improved access to annual leave, job security, fair career progression, and so much more.”

The union has stated that 91 percent of its Crown employee membership base voted in favour of striking the deal – and ending a protracted conflict between the company and its labor force that has spilled into the streets of late.

On the 12th of August between 150 and 200 workers convened outside of the Melbourne Convention Centre, before marching along Yarra Promenade holding signs and chanting their demands for higher wages when working so-called “graveyard” shifts.

At the time, Crown employees were attempting to secure raises of AUD$3 per hour for anybody working the 7 p.m. through 7 a.m. graveyard shift on a Saturday or Sunday. That debate had been raging since April, culminating in the August march and the union’s rejection of a 2.75 percent wage increase across the board.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald on the day of the protest, table games dealer and union delegate Matt Poynter explained the impact that working 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. graveyard shifts has had on his personal life:

“We miss the general life events that the normal 9-to-5 people take for granted because they are free of an evening. I signed up knowing what I was getting into. This is the nature of shift work but it can be quite damaging as far as relationships are concerned and there needs to be a recognition of this personal impact.”

Another union member present at the march, croupier Zoe Riddle, appeared to foretell the labor rights victory to come when speaking to The Age:

“We’re here not only for ourselves, but for our families. And we know that what we’re asking for is just fair recognition for the contribution to the success of our casino.

This is just the beginning. We’re going to keep the pressure up on Crown until they put a real deal on the table. Tonight there are hundreds of us but we know we’re backed by thousands of workers here at the casino … we are stronger than ever and we have the public support. We’re going to win.”

In a bulletin posted to members following the deal’s finalisation, United Voice Casino Union celebrated its collective accomplishment:

“(This) landmark agreement delivers strong pay rises, job security and more full-time jobs at Crown … it values Crown staff for their shift work, and it builds new career paths.

You can win good jobs in the growing service sector, as long as you’re willing to fight for it.”

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