Friday night strike to take place at Crown Casino

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Crown?s Victorian royal commission gets underway

Bartenders and card dealers of Melbourne’s Crown Casino will strike for two hours this Friday night, which will be the first of a series of industrial actions will take place through the busy Spring Racing season.

The Brisbane Times reports that the union of the staff, United Voice, said on Monday that its members, including card dealers, bar and restaurant staff, hotel workers and security guards had voted significantly in favour of taking industrial action given the stalled negotiations over a new wage deal.

United Voice said that casino workers will walk off the job for two hours this Friday night “leaving bars and restaurants unattended and gaming rooms without dealers”, in what will be the first strike action at the Southbank complex for 16 years.

The union also mentioned that staff will decide on Friday night on whether or not to continue action on the following day.  Saturday is Derby Day held at Flemington racecourse, which represents the first major meeting of Melbourne Cup week.

The union didn’t specify how the subsequent action will take place. However, its members have approved action which include strikes of up to 24 hours and a ban on serving alcohol.

United Voice said around half of Crown’s front-line workers were members of the union and would take part in the strike.

Negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) have been underway for the past six months, according to United Voice, with Crown yet to “put a substantive offer on the table.”

The union added that its major concern was to win “secure, stable jobs” in the new EBA, and claimed that 70 per cent of Crown’s workforce were in either a part-time or casual roles.

This employee arrangement is alleged to have broken Crown’s “social contract” with Victoria, which the union said was to create thousands of jobs in return for having a monopoly licence and paying $1 a year to rent a large piece of public land.

New EBA a major sticking point

Crown Resorts, the casino’s ASX-listed owner, said that it was working “constructively” with United Voice towards a new EBA. A Crown spokeswoman said the casino was an award-winning “employer of choice” where 83% of its workforce were permanent full-time or permanent part-time.

“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.”

Also on Monday, public hearings scheduled by the federal law enforcement watchdog into potential corrupt conduct involving Crown Resorts and the Department of Home Affairs were delayed following the availability of a “key witness” came into doubt.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) also said “a number of key witnesses have recently come forward with new information” that are relevant to its inquiry.

The ACLEI’s inquiry was launched after The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes reported on Crown’s efforts to attract significantly wealthy Chinese gamblers to its casinos in Melbourne and Perth, sometimes with the assistance of firms backed by powerful Asian crime gangs.

These activities have been highly publicised in recent months with the scrutiny intensified at Crown’s Annual General Meeting held last Thursday.

The hearings’ preliminary witness list included former Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, who told The Age that two ministers and another MP lobbied him to help “smooth out” the border security processes for the casino’s Chinese high-rollers.

The agency said that it would announce new dates for the public hearings soon.

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