Crown Casino Melbourne workers call off strike

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
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Staff of Melbourne’s Crown Casino cancelled their planned strike for last Friday evening.

The strike related to pay and conditions where they are considering a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) offer from the casino giant.

The Newcastle Herald report that United Workers Union members were set to down tools for two hours on Friday evening, which would occur during one of the busiest trading times of the year, the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The strike would have left “bars and restaurants unattended and gaming rooms without dealers” in what would have been the first strike action at the Southbank complex for 16 years.

However, just a short time before the planned walkout, the union said that a fresh offer would be put forward to members for a vote before any industrial action is taken.

“Union members are holding meetings tonight to vote on next steps,” the union said.

This comes after the union met with Crown in an attempt to reach a last-minute deal.

The outcome of the informal vote will determine whether the strike will go ahead at a future date or if the secret offer will go to a formal vote in the coming days, a delegate told AAP.

The union previously said that they had met with Crown representatives for over 15 bargaining meetings, where they failed to reach a compromise.

The union previously said that 70% of Crown’s workforce, covered by the enterprise agreement, are in either part-time or casual work, a rate almost twice as high as Australia’s figure of 40%.

Workers are seeking greater work stability, however Crown has said its staff appreciate their employment flexibility.

A Crown spokeswoman said that the casino was an award-winning “employer of choice”, and 83% of its workforce were employed in either a permanent full-time or permanent part-time capacity.

“We provide a flexible workplace which caters to thousands of staff who prefer to work on a part-time or casual basis,” the spokeswoman said.

“Where staff would like to work additional hours… we strive to provide them with the opportunity to increase their hours.”

Workers in Perth were also set to join the strike

Crown Perth was also set to join Crown Melbourne in strike action on Friday night, however as per the Melbourne action, this also did not eventuate.

Prior to Friday night, United Voice WA secretary Carolyn Smith said that the spring carnival was one of Crown Perth’s busiest times of year and usually required all “hands on deck to service around 300,000 patrons per day”.

“The amount of money Crown will lose through this strike outweighs what members are

actually bargaining for,” she said.

A Crown Perth spokesperson said that the company was currently bargaining with the union for a new enterprise agreement.

“The parties are constructively working towards finalising our new agreement,” they said.

“Crown prides itself on being an employer of choice and has received numerous awards over the years, including Australian Employer of the Year in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

“Crown is proud to have over 6,000 people working at Crown Perth …  we have put in place extensive plans to minimise any potential disruption to our customers and staff.”

Tim Kennedy, national secretary of the United Workers Union said that employees deserve a “fair share of the company’s success.”

“Instead they’re living week to week, struggling to pay the bills, and having to take on second jobs just to get by. It’s time for this to stop,” he said.

With the strike not taking place as anticipated, it could be a sign that discussions with Crown are heading in a better direction. It is not expected that strike action will take place at any stage of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, which was the targeted date period set for the strike.

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