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Crown workers threaten strike action

Fri, Sep 27, 8:03am by Staff Writer

Crown Casino workers are threatening to walk off the job or refuse to serve alcohol during the spring racing carnival as a wage stoush deepens.

The Brisbane Times reports their union, United Voice, is threatening to bring the casino’s operations to a halt as negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement stall and has applied to the Fair Work Commission to allow for a ballot of its members.

The union will ask members to endorse strikes of up to 24 hours, a ban on serving alcohol, and the wearing of union branding on shift.

It hopes to have the ballot finished by October 28, putting workers in a position to strike by November 1, the day before the Victoria Derby is run, signaling the start of Melbourne Cup week festivities.

Two groups apart on wage increase figures

United Voice is pushing for a five per cent wage increase each year under a new three-year enterprise agreement covering 5,000 workers.

The most recent data shows inflation running at 1.6 per cent, while private sector wages grew by 2.3 per cent in the last financial year.

The union wants increased job security through maintaining full-time jobs and higher minimum hours for part-time workers.

The union has rejected Crown’s offer of a 2.5 per cent annual wage increase over each of the next three years and claimed Crown had agreed in principle to only one of its demands – to reduce the time taken to move from casual to permanent employment from 24 months to 12 months.

“Crown staff work hard to keep the casino running 24/7 and make it the success that it is. When our members strike, Crown simply won’t be able to function.” United Voice state secretary Ben Redford said.

United Voice says the 10 meetings it has had with casino management this year have amounted to little.

“Workers gave Crown the chance to fix the job security crisis, and they did nothing. Now our members are left with no choice but to escalate their campaign, and will do whatever it takes to win justice,” Mr Redford said.

“These workers live pay cheque to pay cheque. They can’t plan their lives, they’re getting second jobs and even having to put off having kids.”

A report released by the union last month found up to 70 per cent of Crown’s workforce were in part-time or casual work.

United Voice’s members have not gone on strike at Crown for 16 years.

But unions recently threatened to disrupt Melbourne Cup week trading for Crown.

In 2015, the Electrical Trades Union refused to repair TVs or gaming machinery or to perform many jobs in VIP gambling rooms.

Crown says it offers flexible work styles

Crown spokeswoman Natasha Stipanov said Crown had a “substantive offer on the table” as part of continuing negotiations.

“Approximately 83 per cent of our workforce are employed on a permanent full-time or part-time basis,” she said, adding that more than 7,400 people work at Crown.

Crown provided flexible options for staff who prefer part-time or casual work, she said.

“Where staff would like to work additional hours, depending on their availability and trading conditions, we strive to provide them with the opportunity to increase their hours worked,” she said.

Crown’s business has been under pressure in recent moths after a drop-off in VIP turnover.

In August, it revealed VIP high-roller turnover fell 26 per cent to $38 billion last financial year, dragging its full-year net profit after tax down 28 per cent to $401.8 million.

Crown is also facing inquiries from New South Wales and Victorian regulators after an investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed Crown had partnered with “junket” operators with alleged links to organised crime and foreign influence agents.


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