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Casino workers receive backpay for training in Tasmania

Tue, Feb 12, 12:31pm by Staff Writer

The Advocate is reporting that workers at Tasmania’s two casinos will receive back pay for compulsory problem gambling training they did in their own time.

Up to 800 workers will be paid between $100 and $150 after United Voice lodged a dispute with the Fair Work Commission last year about the lack of payment for training.

The secretary of United Voice Jannette Armstrong said the commission’s ruling meant casino workers would be back paid for compulsory training they were instructed to take in their own time.

Ms Armstrong said that both the Country Club and Wrest Point casinos had agreed to pay workers for time spent in training for Responsible Conduct of Gambling courses and committee to paying workers for future training.

“It was wrong that Federal Group expected workers to not be remunerated for compulsory training that is a very important requirement of their day-to-day work,” Ms Armstrong said.

“The time spent registering, training and doing this assessment takes four to six hours for employees to complete. This should never, ever have been unpaid work.”

Ms Armstrong said the union had also asked that a full audit of all training practices at both casinos be conducted.

She said she hoped the audit would establish further details on the number of workers who would receive back pay.

The union estimates that between 400 to700 employees are affected and the cost of lost wages for unpaid training hours since 2013 could be up to A$120,000.

Since 2013, casino workers have been directed to complete the compulsory training course at home.

The course teaches employees how to recognise and address problem gambling, how to understand gaming legislation and how to minimise harmful gambling.

Federal’s general manager Casinos and Resorts Dominic Baker said the company was happy “to reach a positive an fair outcome for our casino employees.”

“We highly value our employees who expect us to approach employment related matters responsibly and respectfully and we are taking positive steps to resolve some of the additional matters raised,” Mr Baker said.

Workers lobby for better pay in Tasmania

Last November, hundreds of Tasmanian casino workers campaigned for an increase in pay after they rejected the company’s offer of a two per cent a year increase over three years.

Employees at Wrest Point Casino and Launceston Country Club voted down the proposed increase in January, arguing it would not keep pace with cost of living expenses.

The casinos operators the Federal Group have said staff at its casinos, “are already paid well above union standards.”

Their union, United Voice, said it was also resisting the push by Federal Group to remove some redundancy provisions and reduce casino roster cycles from four week to two.

“Stripping back the roster cycle to two weeks means people can’t plan what they’ll be doing for the next 14 days,” United Voice’s Jessica Sanders said in a letter to members.

The lynchpin of the Farrell family’s profitability in recent times has been its exclusive rights to operate gaming machines in Tasmania.

This arrangement is set to expire in 2023, with financial statements offering little insight into the company’s direction after this time.

The statements say: “Further information about likely developments in the operators of the consolidated entity … has not been included in this report because disclosure of the information would be likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the consolidated entity.”

The Federal Group arrived in Tasmania in 1968 when the state was struggling with debt.

Greg Farrell Sr, the chairman of the Federal Group ran a public campaign to reassure locals that a casino in Tasmania would be more than a hotel and gaming den and would put Tasmania on the map.

Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 February 1973 and was Australia’s first legal casino.

Wrest Point has more than 650 poker machines and 269 hotel rooms.

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