Crown workers march for better weekend pay

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
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On Friday, August 12, hundreds of employees of the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex took to the streets and marched in protest of what they claim to be insufficient wages for weekend work.

After meeting outside near the Melbourne Convention Centre, a group of between 150 and 200 casino dealers, restaurant workers, security staff, front desk agents, and other Crown employees then marched along Yarra Promenade, some holding self-styled signs and others chanting their collective objection to current weekend wages.

According to union representatives, the 5,500-stong staff of Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex – the largest casino operation in Australia – are routinely paid the same wage for working over the weekend as workers who occupy weekday shifts. Specifically, employees who work the ‘graveyard’ shift from 7pm to 7am on Saturday or Sunday are demanding an increase of between AUD$2.31 and AUD$3.00 per hour in their salary.

Speaking with the Fairfax Media, table games dealer and union delegate Matt Poynter described his own experience working at the Southbank facility, where his position requires him to be on duty from 8pm to 4am the majority of nights, including weekends:

“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.”

During the Friday march, Fairfax spoke with Zoe Riddle, a croupier at Crown who had her 18-month-old son William in tow as she addressed her colleagues.

“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.”

Other speakers in attendance described having gone several years running without a proper Christmas holiday with their family, the impact of overnight hours on personal relationships, and other grievances associated with weekend shifts which would be remedied by incentive pay.

The dispute between Crown and its employees has been ongoing since April of this year, and the union recently rejected an offer to raise wages across the board by 2.75 percent.

Responding to the union’s demands and the Friday march, Crown Resorts Limited issued a statement to clarify that the company prefers paying employees flat wage which is higher than industry standard, rather than including incentives and bonuses for weekend or graveyard shifts.

“Crown employees continue to receive higher pay and conditions than the tourism and hospitality industry. Negotiations are ongoing and we are constructively working with the union to resolve the agreement in a timely manner,” the statement said.

According to Crown’s statement, ‘grade-two food and beverage attendants’ take home AUD$18.48 per hour, totaling AUD$36,950 a year, while ‘first-year table games dealers’ pocket home nearly AUD$20 an hour, or just over AUD $39,260 annually.

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