Neva Woolmer, Author at United Workers Union
August 10, 2020

SHOCKING WAGE THEFT STORIES HEARD IN PARLIAMENT

Workers have today shared shocking stories of wage theft at the hands of some of the state’s high profile employers, as public hearings begin for the Queensland Parliament’s proposed new wage theft laws. United Workers Union, which represents workers in industries rife with wage theft such as security, cleaning, food processing, hospitality and more, has been pushing for strong laws to be passed in Parliament to crack down on dodgy bosses using it as a business model. The Parliamentary Inquiry has recognised the many ways workers can experience wage theft, including underpayment, unpaid trials, withholding super, sham contracting, expired agreements, and not paying penalty rates and other entitlements. The Mantle Group is one high profile company that has been using wage theft as a business model for years, including at their Brisbane Pig ‘n’ Whistle venues. Former Pig ‘n’ Whistle employee Declan Langlands was dismissed from the restaurant for refusing […]
August 5, 2020

Spotless Dandenong workers to be paid through their shutdown

After news of a fourth worker testing positive for COVID-19 at Spotless Dandenong, Spotless laundry employees have won the right to be paid while the workplace is shut and under quarantine. Significantly, workers who refused to attend work last Wednesday and Thursday due to concerns of contracting COVID-19 will be granted paid leave for those days. In addition, every Spotless Dandenong worker, full-time, part-time or casual, will receive a minimum of $150 per day even where they have run out or otherwise cannot access leave. Any Spotless casual worker who is not otherwise eligible for the State and Federal payment schemes for whatever reason will be paid by the company. Questions remain as to what will happen with labour hire casual workers who attended the workplace during the infectious period. The Union understands the fourth COVID case involves a labour hire worker. Consultation with workers around safely re-opening the workplace […]
August 3, 2020

Early educators petition Government for JobKeeper during lockdown in Victoria

Thousands of educators across the country are calling on the Federal and State Government to reinstate JobKeeper for Early Childhood Educators in Victoria for the length of the Stage 4 restrictions. Yesterday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that as of Thursday, early childhood services in Melbourne will close, except for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. Workers in early childhood education have already lost access to JobKeeper, meaning tens of thousands of educators working in federally-funded long day care services across Melbourne are facing today’s announcement with no guarantee of income for at least the next 6 weeks. United Workers Union is calling on the State and Federal Government to extend JobKeeper to early educators in Victoria, with a petition launched only last night gathering more than 5,000 signatures and counting. UWU’ Early Childhood Education and Care Director Helen Gibbons said: “The Government did not listen to the sector […]
August 2, 2020

Melbourne educators could be abandoned without pay

Today Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that as of Thursday, early childhood services in Melbourne will close, except for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. Workers in early childhood education have already lost access to JobKeeper, meaning tens of thousands of educators working in federally-funded long day care services across Melbourne are facing today’s announcement with no guarantee of income for at least the next 6 weeks. Early education was the first sector the Morrison Government kicked off JobKeeper. The current 25% transition payment to centres is not enough to cover the loss of income in a Stage 4 lockdown. This leaves tens of thousands of Melbourne educators at risk of being stood down without pay. United Workers Union is calling on the State and Federal Governments to immediately guarantee early childhood educators’ wages. These essential workers must be provided the same safety net offered to workers in […]
July 31, 2020

Spotless Dandenong shut down after laundry workers stand up for COVID safety

The Spotless Dandenong laundry has been shut down after a Department of Health and Human Services investigation into the company’s handling of three positive cases at the site. Union members took a stand for their safety and the safety of the community, refusing to go to work until the outbreak had been properly investigated. Health authorities have advised any worker who has spent more than 30 minutes at the site since July 6 is considered a close contact, who must be tested and remain in quarantine for 14 days. The site was shut down at close of business yesterday (Thursday 30 July), but workers still don’t know what entitlements they will receive. Attribute to United Workers Union Director Godfrey Moase: “Spotless was forced to act because union members took a stand. If it wasn’t for the workers, this outbreak could have been much worse. “Spotless Dandenong workers are low-wage migrant […]
July 30, 2020

Spotless withdraws Fair Work application, while Dandenong public health issues continue

Dandenong laundry contractor Spotless has today withdrawn its Fair Work application to cease industrial action, after workers stood up for their safety following multiple confirmed COVID-19 cases at the site. The withdrawal of this s 418 application does not solve the underlying safety and public health issues at the site but is a necessary step towards doing so. The Department of Health and Human Services have attended the workplace today but the Union has not yet been consulted by the Department. It is understood the investigation is ongoing. Workers who had been in close contact with the positive cases had previously been directed by the employer to attend work on Tuesday and Wednesday, but have now been directed to quarantine for 14 days. The Union understands Spotless will make workers use up their annual leave, personal leave or take unpaid time off work if they are not eligible for leave. […]
July 28, 2020

Hospital Laundry Workers need COVID-19 testing to avoid further outbreaks

The United Workers Union is calling on Spotless to stand down all workers with pay at its Dandenong laundry facility to ensure its workforce can get tested, and isolate until they get their results back. Spotless Dandenong employees are low-wage workers who get paid the Award minimum wage. A Spotless laundry employee who worked at the facility, which supplies a major Victorian private hospital, on Friday 24th July and Saturday 25th July subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Despite 147 workers being present on shift on the Friday, and 88 workers on the Saturday, Spotless has only identified the workforce in one small section as being a close contact of the case. The Union, however, has identified that the positive employee had also been in another work area and interacted with common vectors of potential infection. So far, Spotless has refused to do any more than stand a small number of […]
July 28, 2020

JBS cold storage workers cease work over COVID-19 safety concerns

Workers at JBS in Brooklyn, in Melbourne’s outer west, have ceased work early this morning until the company can assure them they will be safe. The action is in line with the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Act and comes after 71 positive cases connected to the JBS outbreak, The cease work comes fifteen days after the JBS was ordered to close by DHHS. During this period JBS has not responded to many of workers concerns about the safety of the site. The United Workers Union, one of the two unions who represent workers at the site, wrote to JBS asking them to explain how they will keep workers safe. The company responded by telling the union they will meet with them only after workers return to work. In a notice to the company, JBS cold storage workers told the company that “without safe systems of work and without adequate […]
March 31, 2020

Statement on JobKeeper wage subsidy

Attribute to United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy: “The Job Keeper wage subsidy will see a fortnightly payment of $1500 reimbursed to employers who keep workers on the books. “Just days ago the Government said wage subsidies were impossible. We now have a $130 billion wage subsidy. At last year’s federal election we were told raising Newstart by $75 per week was also impossible. The rate has now been doubled. “The Government is moving in the right direction because they have been pushed. But there is more work to be done to ensure all workers are included and supported to the extent that is needed. This must include all casuals, temporary visa holders and non-visa holders. “UWU continues to call for a Jobs Guarantee backed by a 100% wage guarantee and an Income Guarantee for all unemployed workers.” Watch an interview with Tim Kennedy about the Job Keeper wage […]
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