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Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind

MEDIA RELEASE   Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind   WHEN: 12pm (AEDT) TODAY, Friday 03 April 2020 WHERE: https://www.facebook.com/UnitedWorkersOz WHAT: Thousands of Australian workers from every state join together to protest the exclusion of millions of workers from government support during the COVID-19 crisis. WHO: Workers directly impacted by the exclusions are available for interview. Media Contact: 1300 898 633, [email protected]   Today the largest Australia-wide ‘virtual picket line’ is taking place. The ‘virtual picket line’ will raise awareness of how the Federal Government’s wage subsidy excludes millions of workers, and how migrant workers have been left in limbo with no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. The United Workers Union who represents 150,000 workers, including workers in hospitality and on farms, is taking the fight online. United Workers members will be live streaming from their front […]

No more cuts to cleaning in NSW, coronavirus boost must be permanent

MEDIA RELEASE   No more cuts to cleaning in NSW, coronavirus boost must be permanent United Workers Union, the cleaners union, welcomes the NSW Government’s increased funding to boost cleaning services in government buildings and schools during this critical time, by employing hundreds of new cleaners. Georgia Potter Butler, spokesperson for United Workers Union says, “The crucial role of cleaners has finally been recognised and boosted in government buildings, schools, TAFEs and prisons across the state. “Our clear message to the government after 8 years of cuts to cleaning budgets under the Whole of Government cleaning contract is that this increase to the workforce needs to be permanent. “The NSW community is always surprised when they find out that their local schools have had the number of cleaners and cleaning hours cut numerous times in recent years, with the pay of cleaners stripped back also. “At the beginning of this […]

Free early education and care must preserve jobs

MEDIA RELEASE   Free early education and care must preserve jobs The United Workers Union, the union for early education, welcomes today’s announcement of free access to early education and care for Australian families, but says more needs to be done to ensure jobs in the sector are preserved. Today’s announcement did not directly address how the Government plans to preserve the sector so it is still there when Australia is able to get back to work. We are also concerned at the continued failure of the Federal Government to provide further guidance on health and safety for the early education sector during the coronavirus crisis. Last week the union announced a 6 point plan for hygiene and safety including mandatory temperature checks, but the continued Government silence on these issues is worrying. Helen Gibbons, United Workers Union Early Education and Care Director says, “Yes, this announcement is welcome, but […]

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 […]

Sydney Airport keeps over 1000 aviation security guards on tenterhooks

MEDIA RELEASE   Sydney Airport keeps over 1000 aviation security guards on tenterhooks United Workers Union, the security workers union, says over 1000 aviation security guards working at Sydney Airport have been given no information about their ongoing employment amid COVID-19 crisis. The union was told by SNP Security (a subsidiary of Certis – a company owned by the Singapore government) that Sydney Airport Corporation hasn’t been forthcoming with details for the future of many of their 1250 guards. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “Workers have been left in limbo. They’re very distressed. Each day they wait in anguish for some clarification on what their future holds.” It’s anticipated 70% of the 1250 will be stood down without pay. Certis has already stood down around a 100 guards without pay. Mr Davie said: “What we do know during these uncertain times is Certis prioritises its […]

WORKERS’ PLAN TO SURVIVE COVID-19 CRISIS: NO LAY-OFFS; INCOME GUARANTEE; TAX RELIEF AND RENT/ MORTGAGE FREEZES

As millions of workers across the country face cuts to hours and job losses, United Workers Union has today outlined an emergency plan of what working people need from the Federal Government to get through the COVID-19 crisis. The United Workers Union is calling for every person irrespective of their citizenship or visa status to receive either a Jobs Guarantee or an Emergency Income Guarantee, along with a raft of other important actions to ensure we can all get through the COVID-19 crisis together. National Secretary Tim Kennedy said: “We stand in solidarity with the entirety of the union movement in calling for a Jobs Guarantee backed by an 80 per cent wage subsidy to keep people in jobs. “We also recognise that too many Australians are underemployed, unemployed and have already been laid off. That’s why we want to see every member of our community, not otherwise supported through […]

Star and Crown casino workers’ pay protected for the next fortnight

MEDIA RELEASE   Star and Crown casino workers’ pay protected for the next fortnight The Star Entertainment Group and Crown Resorts will pay most stood down casino workers for the next two weeks. This decision comes after days of discussions with United Workers Union representatives and delegates and ensures thousands of casino workers at Star Sydney, Gold Coast and Treasury casinos as well as Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth will keep getting paid for another fortnight during the coronavirus crisis. At Star, full and part time workers will be paid based on the hours they would have worked in this period and casual workers who lost all work last week will now receive 16 hours pay for two weeks. At Crown part time payments are being based on average hours worked over a fortnight, and the casual payment will be $1000. Dario Mujkic, United Workers Union Casinos Director says, “This […]

Early childhood education and care needs urgent & tough coronavirus rules: Union releases plan

MEDIA RELEASE   Early childhood education and care needs urgent & tough coronavirus rules: Union releases plan United Workers Union, the early childhood union, says that hygiene and safety must be improved and increased in centres – or they should be shut down to protect young children and educators. The union has released a 6 point plan to provide clear and strong rules for early childhood education and care (ECEC) and urges the National Cabinet to adopt this plan when they meet tonight. The sector has been thrown into chaos from the lack of leadership from the Federal Government and can no longer wait for action. There can be no further delays on decisions to help centres continue to operate during the Covid-19 crisis. Urgent funding is needed to support centres so they can put measures in place now. Union asks include temperature checks upon arrival, increased personal protective equipment […]

Aged Care workers win two weeks of paid Covid19 leave

One of Australia’s largest Aged Care providers has agreed to pay staff two weeks of special “Covid19 leave” if they or their close family have to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus. The measures apply to both permanent and casual staff, with the payments for casuals based on their last two-week roster period. In addition, a major Western Australian Aged Care provider, Brightwater, has agreed to pay their staff during Covid19 leave. “United Workers Union wrote to Aged Care providers putting our demand for an extra two weeks paid leave for Aged Care workers, because they need their employers’ support if they are going to keep providing quality care,” Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union National Aged Care Director, said today. “It’s great to see an employers as big as Bupa and Brightwater committing to two weeks paid leave for their staff if they or their family have to self-isolate […]

Emergency national action needed to support displaced hospitality workers

United Workers Union is calling on the Federal Government to commit to an emergency rescue package to help close to a million hospitality workers left without work from the COVID-19 crisis. The union, which represents 150,000 members nationally, has today released a plan to help hospitality workers in crisis, demanding the Federal Government deliver an emergency $2500 payment for all displaced hospitality workers and a basic income payment while they are out of work of $740 per week (federal minimum wage) for at least the rest of 2020. The union’s National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the hospitality industry was in meltdown and 79 per cent of the workforce were casuals with no access to paid leave. “We are hearing horror stories daily from our members across all industries of the impacts of losing work. We know hospitality is already one of the most insecure industries, with wage theft and exploitation […]

Aged care workers must get promised funds urgently

The Federal Government has belatedly recognised the importance of an overworked and understaffed workforce in dedicating funding directly to aged carers, the United Workers Union said today. “The challenge for the Federal Government is to make sure the workers who will be running aged care in this time of crisis get the money they have been promised,” Carolyn Smith, the National Aged Care Director of United Workers Union said. “We need a fair, transparent and equitable system to deliver the funding as quickly as possible to aged carers – they need this to go straight into their pockets. “Aged carers will be on the front line of this crisis, and they need all the support they can get. “The $235 million for retention bonuses is welcome recognition of the importance of aged carers. “It must not be soaked up by the top layer or go missing in red tape.” Ms […]

Opinion: Being better starts with you, Prime Minister

OPINION: Being better starts with you, Prime Minister Written by United Workers Union National President Jo-Anne Schofield The Corona-Crisis has exposed the deep fault-lines of inequality in Australia and around the globe. Australia has 3.3 million workers in insecure work.  These are workers who live week to week, often in casual or gig-type shifts in sectors like hospitality, clubs, pubs, tourism, sport and the arts.    There’s been a lot of talk about the impact of COVID-19 on these businesses – and rightly so. Many will be forced to dramatically scale back services, or close for a period, perhaps permanently. But it is the workers in these businesses that will bear the brunt of the economic consequences of COVID-19.  Surely it’s time to talk about them. The United Workers Union is hearing daily stories of workers being treated as disposable in a downturn.  Many are losing shifts or being stood down […]

Calls for urgent action to protect Australian farm workers

The United Workers Union, the farm workers union, calls for urgent action to protect and resolve the visa status of migrant workers on Australian farms during the COVID-19 crisis. Migrant workers are being left in limbo due to the uncertainty of ever changing travel restrictions and border closures, and no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. They are also facing the same key issue that all insecure workers in Australia are facing: Can they afford to self-isolate? United Workers Union spokesperson Jannette Armstrong said, “Without urgent support and clarity, Australia may see tens of thousands of visa workers stranded with invalid visas, or departing the country early leaving huge holes in some of our essential workforces. “Australia’s supply of fresh produce is crucially dependent on temporary migrant workers. The labour of temporary and undocumented workers has held up the fresh produce industry in Australia […]

NSW school cleaning – years of government cost-cutting has put school communities at risk in the coronavirus outbreak

The extra funding announced by the Berejiklian Government for school cleaning is too little and too late. It does not repair eight years of cost savings and cuts to cleaning hours by this Government. This continued cost cutting has put the safety of school cleaners, students, teachers and staff at risk. The Government and the four cleaning contractors working across our schools have been deliberately driving down wages and direct cleaning hours on school grounds. This cost-cutting has been continuing during the coronavirus outbreak, creating an inexcusable and downright dangerous situation. Georgia Potter Butler, spokesperson for United Workers Union, the cleaners union, says, “Cost-cutting and cutting back of cleaning hours has been happening across the system, it has been happening in your local public school and there are still cuts proposed. “United Workers Union has concerns about the handling by the Department of Education and Public Works of the NSW […]

MONA security guards sacked during coronavirus shutdown

Contractor Coverall Security has sacked MONA security guards using the coronavirus shutdown as an excuse. United Workers Union, the security union, condemns this underhand move. Tasmanian workers need to be supported, not sacked, by their employers during the coronavirus crisis. Thomas Windsor, Managing Director and part-owner of Coverall Security has told the sacked guards that the temporary closure of MONA is the reason for them losing their job. There was no consultation with the workers or requests for the guards to use banked leave during this time. He has even told the workers not to bother fighting him. Sarah Ellis, United Workers Union Tasmania spokesperson says, “This is just a disgusting decision by Coverall Security in these uncertain times. “Thomas Windsor needs to hand back his honours from Australia Day for work supposedly advocating for mental health and depression. He doesn’t care about the mental health of the workers he […]

New aged care restrictions sensible to address coronavirus impact

New restrictions on visitors to aged care facilities represent sensible steps toward addressing the impact of coronavirus on the country’s most vulnerable citizens, United Workers Union said today. The union’s National Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said: “Aged care workers are on the front line of this crisis and they welcome steps to keep their workplaces as protected from coronavirus as possible. “While the restrictions may be inconvenient and distressing for some families, aged care workers are extremely aware of their responsibilities to ensure appropriate infection control measures.” Ms Smith said aged care workers should be supported by their employers during the coronavirus crisis. “Aged care workers need the assurance they will be supported to meet the long-term care needs of their residents if they have to take coronavirus-related leave.” Ms Smith said the new restrictions on visits came on top of the rigorous infection control measures that were already […]

United Workers Union welcomes the country’s first wage theft laws

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union welcomes the country’s first wage theft laws The United Workers Union who represent 150,000 workers, including workers in hospitality, cleaning and on farms welcomes the State Government’s new legislation that stands to be the toughest wage theft laws of any state. Today the Andrews Labor Government has introduced new laws that will see employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers face up to 10 years jail. The Wage Theft Bill 2020 will establish new criminal offences for employers who deliberately withhold wages and other employee entitlements. Tim Kennedy, National Secretary of United Workers Union, said every year, thousands of the lowest paid workers in the country experienced wage theft. For many workers in insecure work, systemic wage theft eats into hard won wages and working conditions and undermines people’s confidence in the law.  “Employers who steal from their staff need to be […]

WA hospital workers win fight against privatisation

Thousands of health workers in Western Australia have won a decade-long fight against healthcare privatisation today, with the McGowan Government announcing key Fiona Stanley Hospital services would be brought back into public hands. United Workers Union – the union for hospital support staff including cleaners, catering staff and orderlies – welcomed the winding back of Serco’s $4.3 billion hospital contract, which would deliver better jobs for more than 600 workers and better care for the community. Health worker and union member Phyllis de Gois was among thousands who stood together and spoke out against the privatisation of health services in WA.   “I am thrilled about what our campaign has achieved – it’s better for the patients, better for the public, and better all round,” she said. “The hospitals we work in belong to the community. We never want to see a government try and outsource our public health again.” […]

United Workers Union welcomes State Government legislation to make wage theft a crime

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union welcomes State Government legislation to make wage theft a crime The union representing Queensland contracting workers, including security, cleaning, hospitality and more, welcomes the State Government’s new legislation to make wage theft a criminal offence. Today the Palaszczuk Government has announced amendments to the state Criminal Code to tackle wage theft following a Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “This is a step forward in the right direction by the Palaszczuk Labor Government. “Any changes must ensure wage thieves are being criminally prosecuted – whether the theft is a one off or ongoing, and the individuals who are responsible need to be held to account. “Offences must extend to the falsification of worker records and the failure to keep worker entitlements. “United Workers Union members are frequently victims of wage theft, feeling the impact of zombie agreements […]

Workers must be supported through coronavirus

MEDIA RELEASE   Workers must be supported through coronavirus United Workers Union – the union for 150,000 Australians in a range of essential industries – is calling for workers to be supported as concerns around coronavirus (COVID-19) escalate nationally. Union Director Carolyn Smith said now was the time for all Australians to get behind the workers who keep our communities running. “Our members’ work reaches millions of people every single day of their lives. It is working people who are on the frontline of the coronavirus threat,” Ms Smith said. “We need significant back-up and support – from employers and from Government – to deal with this global health crisis.” The union is calling for the following key commitments to be put in place immediately to ensure workers are safe and don’t lose out under this global health crisis: If workers cannot work due to coronavirus risks, they should not […]

International Women’s Day Protest at Melbourne Bakery

MEDIA RELEASE   INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY PROTEST AT MELBOURNE BAKERY Ahead of International Women’s Day this weekend, around 60 – 80 women will be taking to the streets to protest the mistreatment and exploitation faced by workers at Davies Bakery every single day. One of Australia’s leading bread manufacturers is accused of discriminating against a pregnant worker by refusing to give her a full-time position, and then cutting all her shifts after she told her manager she was pregnant in an application lodged at VCAT this morning. Rajdeep Kaur, who has worked as a casual employee at the bakery for almost 1.5 years, said, “like so many migrant workers I came to Australia for a better life. I have worked very hard at Davies Bakery, and would regularly work 6 days a week, and sometimes even 14-hour shifts. I never expected that I would be treated like this in Australia. […]

We can stamp out wage theft: workers present solutions to the Senate today

MEDIA RELEASE   We can stamp out wage theft: workers present solutions to the Senate today United Workers Union members have presented a formal submission to the Senate Inquiry into Wage Theft in Canberra today on behalf of the thousands of union members who have experienced wage theft. The workers are calling for an end to wage theft becoming the ‘new normal’ and presenting solutions to return a culture of compliance to Australian workplaces. Workers have shared shocking personal stories of wage theft in the submission. Stories include farm workers paid $8 to $12 an hour to pick tomatoes whilst being exposed to dangerous chemical spraying. One food manufacturing worker was forced to work 23 hours a day for no overtime and with the help of the union recovered $36,000 in overtime wages. A security guard working 24 hour shifts for a flat rate of pay was not paid any […]

Victorian Ambulance Agreement: Action on fair pay, safety and exposure to drugs

MEDIA RELEASE   Victorian Ambulance Agreement: Action on fair pay, safety and exposure to drugs The Ambulance Employees Australia Victoria (AEAV) has today reached in-principle agreement with Ambulance Victoria on a new enterprise agreement. Key concessions from Ambulance Victoria include commitments to address the AEAV key claims including:  Fair pay increases that keep Victorian paramedics the best paid in the country Pay parity for undervalued Ambulance Victoria employees Paramedics not being forced to work alone Introduction of best practice drug testing. Paramedic and AEAV State Councillor Brett Adie said AEAV members were pleased the Victorian Government had agreed to take action on all outstanding claims. “There is still much work to be done to ensure a safe working environment for all paramedics, especially those in rural areas,” Mr Adie said. “Ambulance Victoria has finally acknowledged the risk of environmental exposure to drugs such as ketamine and committed to working with […]

NSW school cleaners outraged by inappropriate coronavirus request to clean for Diamond Princess crew in Japan

MEDIA RELEASE   NSW school cleaners outraged by inappropriate coronavirus request to clean for Diamond Princess crew in Japan   United Workers Union is extremely concerned that NSW school cleaners employed by services giant Broadspectrum have been approached by supervisors via site visits and text messages requesting they go to Japan to clean. The approach has caused confusion with many members being told that it would be to clean ‘the coronavirus ship’ but with Broadspectrum now stating to the media that it is to clean a quarantine station for Diamond Princess crew. Text messages sent to school cleaners said: A really great opportunity has arrived. Would you like to earn some good money … all you need is a valid passport to go to Japan and clean for 6 days. Broadspectrum supervisors have not been able to inform school cleaners about the safety measures that will be put in place, […]

Win for NT emergency service workers diagnosed with PTSD

MEDIA RELEASE   Win for NT emergency service workers diagnosed with PTSD   In a big win for the Northern Territory’s dedicated emergency service workers, the Northern Territory Government has tabled amendments to the Return to Work Act. Most importantly, these amendments include presumptive post-traumatic stress disorder recognition for paramedics and fire fighters. Erina Early, United Workers Union NT spokesperson says, “This is the right thing to do for our paramedics and firefighters, and will bring about the cultural change needed in the territory’s emergency services. It will allow our paramedics and firefighters to be confident enough in putting their hands up to say they are struggling, without fear of any reprisal from their employers and insurers. “Claiming PTSD through workers compensation is stressful and challenging. For too long our paramedics and firefighters are made to feel worthless when they lodge a workers compensation claim. “The union never wants to […]

Canberra Airport must sack contractor for not paying workers affected by bushfires

MEDIA RELEASE   CANBERRA AIRPORT MUST SACK CONTRACTOR FOR NOT PAYING WORKERS AFFECTED BY BUSHFIRES United Workers Union, the security union, is calling on Canberra Airport to sack Certis Security Australia as their security contractor for not paying workers who were prevented from attending work due to the bushfires. The union says major multinational Certis Security has docked the pay of Canberra Airport staff showing an extraordinary level of disregard for the emergency circumstances being faced on the ground at the time. Workers who had tried to attend work, but were unable to due to smoke and bushfires, and workers who went home to check on properties, have been docked pay. During the bushfire crisis, acts of community spirit and kindness spread across the country. Certis Security’s actions fly in the face of this. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “It is clear that Certis is […]

ACT school cleaners celebrate success of ‘backsourcing’ their jobs

School cleaners in the ACT have completed their first successful week as new employees of the ACT Government. Bringing these jobs into the public sector has been cause for celebration among school cleaners, with many having endured wage theft and indefinite job insecurity for years. Leading economist Dr Jim Stanford has applauded the move for promoting safer and fairer workplaces. Karma Dema, school cleaner of four years said she felt proud to be part of the fight, “I am feeling very proud of our efforts in fighting for staff to go back in house and while it hasn’t been easy, we never gave up. “This will mean better pay and conditions, better job security and it will be life-changing for a lot of people. This just shows how powerful it is to be in a union because when you stand together through the thick and thin you will win.” Lyndal […]

NSW medical supply workers strike for a fair go

MEDIA RELEASE NSW medical supply workers strike for a fair go Onelink workers in Sydney’s logistics hub at Yennora went on strike at 5:00am this morning. Onelink provides medical supplies such as sanitary items, IV tubing and gowns to hospitals across NSW. 70 full-time workers and 20 casual and part-time workers at Onelink will strike for 24 hours in their fight to win a fair pay offer that reflects the importance of their work. The workers have been ripped off to the tune of almost $200 a week compared to those working for the same parent company in a warehouse 10 minutes away. These workers shift essential supplies to NSW hospitals, and say they deserve to be fairly compensated for their important work. Onelink is a trading name of Symbion, owned by the EBOS group, a multi-billion dollar company who reported almost $7 billion in revenue in 2019. Despite boasting ethical […]

Krispy Kreme’s “zombie” agreement ripping off Australian factory workers

MEDIA RELEASE   Krispy Kreme’s “zombie” agreement ripping off Australian factory workers   A Krispy Kreme worker has stepped up for her colleagues across Australia, lodging official documents to have the US company’s unfair “zombie” agreement killed. United Workers Union is assisting the worker who has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate global donut giant Krispy Kreme’s out-dated zombie enterprise agreement, made using the Howard Government’s “WorkChoices” legislation and benefitting the wealthy US owners. In the latest scandal plaguing the food and dining sector, manufacturing workers have been locked into working for wages and conditions at Krispy Kreme  that are well below community and industry standards – and for many years. The business has taken advantage of the out-dated agreement paying these workers a flat rate that, for most hours worked, is below the Food Manufacturing Award. Workers receive no evening penalty rates for evening shifts where they […]

Fine dining disaster: Dinner by Heston worker exploitation revealed

MEDIA RELEASE   Hospo Voice, the hospitality arm of the United Workers Union, is outraged to learn from a leaked administrator’s report that Dinner by Heston stole an extraordinary $4.5 million from its workers and that when the venue first opened Crown Resorts set up the “blueprint” for how these workers were engaged. Crown has tried to distance itself from Heston Blumenthal’s Melbourne-branded venue, which is facing eviction from Crown in just over a week, leaving dozens of highly-skilled hospitality staff out of work. BRI Ferrier, Dinner by Heston’s administrators, described the venue as a “a joint venture” between Crown Melbourne and Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd, a company located in a Caribbean tax haven. Today’s revelations include that the lease to Crown is only $1 a year, the venue trades using Crown bank accounts and Crown even takes a share of profits. Crown also paid a company related to Tipsy […]

Airport workers to stop work unless protective measures against coronavirus provided

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union, the security workers union, says that contractors servicing Australia’s major airports have dismissed requests from their workers to take protective measures against the coronavirus – choosing to put profits ahead of the safety of workers. Airport staff, including officers stationed at security checkpoints and facility attendants, may have no choice but to stop work, after being told they are not allowed to wear protective gear because this will make customers feel “uncomfortable”. In some cases, workers who have made a request to wear a mask have been threatened with disciplinary action. Access to basic hygiene, such as soap, has also been identified by security workers at Sydney Airport as a major cause for concern. The union says that contractor Certis Security Australia has so far failed to move on the issue. United Workers Union spokesperson for Property Services Damien Davie said: “It is appalling […]

Appalling Neglect of Aged Care Exposed in New Report

MEDIA RELEASE   The disgraceful situation facing Aged Care workers and residents in the failing Aged Care system has been highlighted once again in a report today to the Aged Care Royal Commission. New research shows Australia fares badly when compared internationally, with the highest reported level of residents in care but one of the lowest levels of spending on aged care. “The research demonstrates what United Workers Union has argued repeatedly: insufficient funding is going towards the people who provide care to Australia’s elderly,” United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today. The Flinders University research for the Aged Care Royal Commission also found overall staffing levels in aged care in Australia was lower than many other countries, stating: “Australia appears to provide lower levels of staffing overall in residential care in comparison to the USA, Denmark, New Zealand, Switzerland and Germany.” Ms Smith said: “In Australia’s […]

Union welcomes Fair Work Commission decision to maintain hairdresser penalty rates

MEDIA RELEASE   The Fair Work Commission’s decision to maintain hairdressers’ weekend penalty rates was a belated recognition of the importance of weekend rates to low-paid workers, the National President of the United Workers Union, Jo Schofield, said today. Ms Schofield welcomed the decision to support hairdressers’ penalty rates, which flies in the face of the Morrison Government’s efforts to slash penalty rates for workers in the hospitality and retail sectors in 2017. “United Workers Union members know only too well how hard it is to fight against penalty rate cuts after successfully defending penalty rates for 42,000 clubs workers last year,” Ms Schofield said. “In the hairdressers’ case the Fair Work Commission (FWC) agreed with union arguments that a cut in hairdressers’ penalty rates would cut the earnings of low-paid workers, affecting their living standards and their ability to make ends meet. “This is belated recognition by the FWC […]

Jobs must be saved at iconic Hobart pub

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union members at The Republic Bar will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss their futures in the wake of news that the iconic and independent North Hobart pub has been sold. The new owner, Pub Banc Group, also owns Cargo, Jack Greene, T42 and several other Hobart establishments. The Republic Bar will formally move to their ownership in just a few weeks, on 4 February 2020. Jannette Armstrong from United Workers Union, the hospitality union, says, “It is disappointing that it appears Pub Banc has chosen not to keep on the core staff who have made The Repub the friendly, welcoming, well-patronised institution it is. United Workers Union understands that permanent staff have already been made redundant, while other casual staff have yet to hear if their employment will continue with Pub Banc. “Most Hobartians will have fond memories of big nights, great gigs, and […]

Corrections Minister must resign over assault lies

MEDIA RELEASE   The union for Correctional Officers says Corrections Minister Elise Archer must resign. Minister Archer has shown her outright incompetence by denying assaults on Officers took place. The Minister continues to deny the serious health and safety issues happening daily in her prison system. Jannette Armstrong, United Workers Union Tasmania spokesperson says, “Correctional Officers are simply staggered and offended at the incompetence and callousness in today’s comments to the media by the Minister. “To deny that assaults have taken place on Officers during the Christmas and New Year period when they are clearly documented in the Department of Justice’s official daily reports shows downright incompetence and a callous disregard for the complex issues that are spiralling out of control on her watch. “The facts are clear – Risdon Prison Complex and Hobart Reception Prison are over capacity. There was an assault on an Officer just before Christmas, an […]

Morrison Government continues aged care neglect in MYEFO

MEDIA RELEASE   The Federal Government has failed to deliver the urgent funding required to fix aged care in this year’s Mid-Year-Economic Forecast. Once again they have completely neglected to address the sector’s systemic workload and funding issues. Australians heard many harrowing stories in the Aged Care Royal Commission throughout 2019 about the effects of the chronic understaffing in aged care – like rushed and inadequate times for meals and incontinence pads being rationed. MYEFO was the opportunity for this Government to take action. United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith says, “The elderly in Australia and the aged care providers who face going to the wall have seen no new commitments in today’s Mid-Year Economic Forecast. “Today the Morrison Government served up a rehash of their previous announcement on 25 November, alongside their surplus obsession. “They had promised $1.073 billion for the sector, but today’s MYEFO is far […]

Correctional Officers escalate overtime bans ahead of final court week

MEDIA RELEASE   Overtime bans by Correctional Officers will be escalated this morning. The ban will disrupt remand hearings on one of the last court sitting days before Christmas. With the Tasmania Prison Service in crisis and the Hodgman Government refusing to negotiate, Correctional Officers say they have no other option. Correctional Officers and their supporters will mark the commencement of the bans with a ‘honk off’ outside Risdon Prison this morning. Correctional Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. The overtime bans will impact the role of the Tasmania Prison Service to facilitate its duty to the community of Tasmania. The escalation of protected industrial action comes as United Workers Union delegate and Correctional Supervisor Philip Pregnell writes to the Premier and Corrections Minister Elise Archer outlining the shocking toll of the current workplace issues on workers. […]

Aged care workers have their say: 16 workforce recommendations presented to Royal Commission

Aged care workers have presented 16 recommendations to the Aged Care Royal Commission, as the Commission commences the last week of hearings for 2019. The wide-ranging workforce reforms will achieve a best practice aged care system for workers and the elderly Australians in their care. The United Workers Union submission levels heavy criticism at the Morrison Government for their historical and ongoing irresponsible, unaccountable approach to funding for aged care. Chronic underfunding and the resulting systemic workforce issues have been the major theme to emerge in the Aged Care Royal Commission. The United Workers Union workforce submission recommends reforms to impose minimum staffing levels, overhaul funding, introduce industry bargaining and qualification requirements. Recommendations presented to the Royal Commission today include: RECOMMENDATION: the Federal Government must introduce targeted funding for the aged care workforce to ensure funding goes directly to improving the wages and working conditions of aged care workers RECOMMENDATION: […]

Correctional Officers commence overtime bans!

Correctional Officers have commenced a ban on overtime and recalls from 7:00am this morning. Officers will not accept overtime hours and will not accept a recall to duty for a shift for 24 hours starting today. The overtime and recall ban is the next step in Correctional Officers’ schedule of protected industrial action. Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s pay offer and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. Today’s action by members will highlight the significant personal contribution Correctional Officers make to a safer Tasmania by going above and beyond their rostered hours. Under the current staffing crisis, overtime and recalls move prisoners out of their cells and into the programs and appointments they need for rehabilitation. The 24-hour action will undoubtedly impact on out-of-cell hours, with the understaffed roster insufficient to provide safe staffing levels for operation. It may also impact programs, professional appointments and […]

Head chef cooks up union wins!

Working as a head chef is a busy job at the best of times, so when United Workers Union member Daniel Strange set about unionising his workplace in a non-unionised sector he really had his work cut out for him. After quizzing the owners of the Brisbane restaurant where he works about illegal contracting and underpayments of wages, his employer made changes  including redrafting salary contracts with a total increase of around $3000 per year plus backpay and super. They also agreed to phase out split shifts, and reduced workers’ unfair workloads from an average of 60 hours a week to 40 hours. They then adjusted employee pay levels based on the job performed, resulting in most casuals being moved to a higher level of pay. Along the way Daniel was able to unionise most of his kitchen team including the operations manager and a new chef who signed up […]

WA education department underpays 27,000 low paid cleaners, gardeners and home economic assistants

United Workers Union, the union for school cleaners, gardeners and home economic assistants have today been notified of historic underpayments of 27,000 by the Education Department stemming back to 1983. United Workers Union State Secretary Carolyn Smith said the underpayments are a serious issue that must be rectified. “These are some of the lowest paid workers, who work in environments that are often dangerous and physically demanding,” she said. “The work they do is important and is often unseen and they truly deserve every cent for the jobs they do in providing quality services to West Australian schools.” Ms Smith said members welcome the Government’s commitment to repaying workers past the 6 year legal threshold. “Members welcome the State Government’s swift response to the findings of the underpayments and support the full pay back of all workers affected – past and present. “The majority of people affected are no longer […]

Red alert – NT Ambos rally at last sitting day

Northern Territory paramedics will hold a silent rally outside the final sitting day of Parliament, calling for the Territory’s ambulance services to be transferred back to the Government. Erina Early, United Workers Union NT spokesperson says, “Today, we once again call for control of the Northern Territory’s ambulance services to be transferred to the Government. “It’s time to stop the privatisation of the NT ambulance service and we’ll be rallying outside the last sitting day demonstrating disapproval of the Government’s lack of support of our NT paramedics, patient transport and emergency medical despatchers. “United Workers Union members want to see the service back under government control in order to secure more access to training, support for staff and a better service for Territorians. “No emergency services should be privatised.”

Correctional Officers march off the job over pay and working conditions

Correctional Officers will march off the job at 3:00pm to hold a stop work meeting as the start of rolling industrial actions in the Tasmanian Prison Service to demand safer conditions for staff and inmates and suitable wages. Correctional Officers have rejected the Hodgman Government’s insulting pay offer* and the continued lack of action on understaffing and working conditions. They also condemn the Hodgman Government’s plans to introduce a lower paid level of worker into the prison system and deskill the workforce. This underhand move is a blatant attempt to force Correctional Officers to back down on their fight for a fair pay rise and improved working conditions, and is a law and order issue – lower qualified workers would not be trained in use of force and unable to restrain a prisoner in the event of an assault or an escape. Correctional Officers walked off the job in June. […]

Band aid announcement fails to address systemic aged care issues

United Workers Union welcomes the additional home care packages and training for dementia announced today. But the Morrison government’s announcement completely fails to address the systemic workload and funding issues in aged care. Workers spoke out about the huge impacts of their crushing workloads and lack of time to provide quality care in the largest ever survey of aged care workers released last month. Carolyn Smith, United Worker Union’s National Director of Aged Care says, “Today’s announcement fails to address the chronic funding needs sector-wide. “The Morrison government just continues to deal out band aids to this sector. The Royal Commission has explicitly addressed the fact that workforce is the key to providing quality care, and this announcement completely fails to provide funding for that. “Australia cannot wait for the final recommendations of the Royal Commission due this time next year for the Government to act comprehensively on the crisis […]

Cooler classrooms create safer environments and improve learning

MEDIA RELEASE   Cooler classrooms create safer environments and improve learning   Safer working environments and improved learning outcomes for students will be among the benefits of air-conditioned classrooms being rolled out in 300 more state schools across Queensland. Teacher aide and school cleaner members of United Workers Union welcomed the $50 million commitment announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today. “Keeping students focused as they swelter in classrooms over the hotter months has always been a challenge,” Inala teacher aide Kim Maudsley said. “Hot classrooms are also a major health and safety issue for many students and school staff,” she said. “We welcome the Government’s commitment to ensuring safer working and learning environments in our state schools and the improved learning outcomes that will result from cooler classrooms.” United Workers Union Public Sector Director Sharron Caddie said school cleaners would also benefit from air-conditioned classrooms as they would provide an […]

Racism and bullying festers at Youfoodz Brisbane plant

MEDIA RELEASE   Racism and bullying festers at Youfoodz Brisbane plant   Brisbane based meal delivery business, Youfoodz, is using racial tactics to divide employees and keep migrant workers vulnerable says the United Workers Union (UWU). United Workers Union food & beverage spokesperson Imogen Beynon says last week’s racist video scandal is far from an isolated incident for the business, who has turned a blind eye to racially motivated attacks and systemic bullying and has allowed harassment to flourish amongst their mainly migrant workforce. “Like many migrant workers, Youfoodz workers have come to Australia to build a good life. Instead, what they found at Youfoodz is a culture of bullying, racism and extreme wage theft,” she said. “Rather than addressing the worksite’s culture of racism and bullying, the company is using it to drive productivity. “For example, while many workers get access to 10-minute breaks, Punjabi workers are often told […]

Lonsdale Street hospitality businesses fail to commit to stamping out sexual harassment and wage theft

MEDIA RELEASE   Lonsdale Street hospitality businesses fail to commit to stamping out sexual harassment and wage theft *** Lunchtime protest and launch of Respect is the Rule MIDDAY TODAY *** Hospo workers will march along Lonsdale Street today, calling for an end to sexual harassment and wage theft in hospitality. At the end of the march, workers will officially launch the Respect is the Rule campaign in Canberra. Hospo workers decided to launch the campaign following recent meetings where dozens of workers spoke about their experiences of wage theft and sexual harassment while working at venues along Lonsdale Street, including at Binny’s Kathitto and Knightsbridge (issues have been lodged with small claims & ATO). The workers elected a union delegate and decided that the first step they would take was to write to every employer on the eat strip. Hospo workers delivered a letter to every single employer on […]

Union win: Golden Farms

UNION WIN   Our Golden Farms members were gearing up to go on strike today. At the last minute, they were able to successfully negotiate a great agreement instead. This is a big win for our members. It ensures that when the company relocates, our members can choose between a secure union job at the new site, or can volunteer for an increased redundancy if the move is too far away. They also got increases of 3%, 2.75%, and 2.5% – and smashed the Company’s claim for forced public holiday work. Huge congratulations to our awesome Golden Farms delegates and members. Being prepared to take industrial action takes courage – but this shows when workers stand together, they win.  

Union win: Christmas pay saved for UTAS cleaners

MEDIA RELEASE   Sixty cleaners at University of Tasmania campuses in Hobart and Launceston have been saved from financial distress this Christmas.   Following mediation in the Fair Work Commission, cleaning contractor GJK Facility Services backed down on their attack on the cleaners’ pay over the upcoming Christmas period. GJK have agreed to pay their permanent employees their regular pay packet over the Christmas holidays and roster them on for regular shifts.   GJK Facility Services had told the permanently employed cleaners that they wouldn’t be given any work over the upcoming Christmas period, with workers to lose up to a month’s pay. The cleaners had also been told they would have no say in the weeks they would be cut from the roster across the Christmas holidays.   UTAS cleaner Anna Reay says, “When cleaners join their union and work together they can achieve anything. We are all so […]

Disability workforce must have their voices heard in Royal Commission: Adelaide forums start today

MEDIA RELEASE   United Workers Union, the union for disability services workers, welcomes the Disability Royal Commission commencing community forums in South Australia this week. Australia’s disability services workers provide essential services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. United Workers Union urges the Royal Commission to make the voices of workers in the sector an integral part of the Royal Commission. United Workers Union members will be participating in the forums to ensure that the voices of disability care workers are heard. At the same time the Royal Commission is underway, the Federal Government cannot neglect this sector, action is needed now ensure that inadequate and restrictive NDIS pricing stops hampering the provision of quality services and decent jobs in Australia’s disability services. Jennifer Connor, United Workers Union disability support member says, “Disability workers around Australia must be given a voice in the Royal Commission proceedings. […]

National Union of Workers and United Voice officially merge to create United Workers Union

MEDIA RELEASE   On 11 November 2019, National Union of Workers and United Voice will merge to create the United Workers Union. This marks the beginning of a new union committed to standing with everyday working people and our 150,000 members in their struggle for secure jobs, decent pay and respect at work. Both unions have a long history of organising around issues of casualization, wage theft and exploitation in low paid industries. Together, United Workers Union will have coverage across major supply chains of the Australian economy, with potential membership of up to two million workers. Quotes attributable to Tim Kennedy, United Workers Union National Secretary “Today is an exciting day for 150,000 members who are the face of a modern, diverse and powerful new union. Together we will take action to win job security and decency at work.“ “We are a union committed to social justice in Australia […]

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