Casino workers strike
by Magda Hansson While Star City Casino increased its profits by 26.4 per cent over the last 12 months and while the casino's CEO takes home over $23,000 per week the Star City workers are expected to take the equivalent of a seven per cent pay cut. The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMWU) is wanting at least a 15 per cent over two years pay increase for its members to offset inflation, expected to be 7.5 per cent, and the extra burden of the GST. Management is offering 8.75 per cent over three years which would barely cover the 7.3 per cent average cut to wages that would result if the loaded shift penalties are abolished as demanded by management. Management want rates of pay based on low and peak periods at the casino, so a worker on the morning shift after 4am would receive no loading on their base rate and workers on Sunday would only receive only 25 per cent while it is currently 75 per cent under the award. The union is insisting that all workers be paid proper penalty rates. There are social and health issues that arise from working these unsociable hours and workers should be compensated for them. Management has rejected 90 per cent of the unions 39 claims and wants to abolish 24 clauses in the former Enterprise Agreement that protects workers. It has so far ignored members' concerns on health and safety issues. Due to management's go slow tactics and repeated cancellation of meetings, the old Enterprise Agreement expired without a new one being agreed on. The union and its members were forced to take industrial action last month in order to protect their conditions and force the Casino to negotiate a better deal. The LHMWU initiated a protected bargaining period with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The period is indefinite, until a new Enterprise Agreement is reached. More than 2000 workers took part in the strike and more than 500 new members were signed up bringing the total membership to over 75 per cent at the Casino. Other issues for the union and their members are the lack of a formal grievance procedure, the apparent unwillingness of management to implement one and the protection of workers from passive smoking. The union wants management to consult with union delegates to create proper procedures and for them to be written into the Enterprise Agreement. Management does not always back up workers when it comes to dealing with drunk and abusive gamblers. Croupiers, in particular, are at risk from passive smoking. They can have up to eight players within two feet of them blowing smoke into their faces for up to eight hours over a shift.