Gaming merger must protect jobs
The union representing UNiTAB workers in Queensland has called for commitments regarding job security and working conditions following the formal announcement of plans for the TAB Ltd (the privatised NSW TAB) to merge with UNiTAB. UNiTAB is a Queensland-based gaming company which also owns the South Australian and Northern Territory TABs. It was previously known as Qld TAB Ltd, but changed its name to UNiTAB to reflect its takeover of gambling operations in South Australia and the Northern Territory. The new (private) company will be Australia's largest wagering company with more than 3000 outlets taking bets on horse and greyhound racing. It would also have 115,000 profit-generating slot machines. Australian Services Union Branch Secretary Julie Bignell said many UNiTAB workers who were concerned about its impact on jobs and working conditions. "UNiTAB, TAB Ltd and the Queensland Government should give clear commitments about the impact on jobs", Ms Bignell said. "The proposed merger should not be an excuse to bid down jobs and conditions, and we believe it would be appropriate for the parties to the merger to provide clear commitments about this to employees", she said. "The vast majority of employees in Queensland have given many years of service despite being employed as casuals, and they deserve guarantees regarding their future." The union is seeking assurances from UNiTAB and TAB Ltd over the future of Queensland TAB workers. It appears that UNiTAB will retain its headquarters in Queensland and continue to trade under its present name. "I will be asking representatives from the two companies to give commitments about the future security of working conditions and in relation to the totality of employee numbers." This merger will in effect amount to a takeover with TAB Ltd shareholders owning about 75 per cent of the new company and is likely to be followed by other mergers or takeovers in an industry which has already become highly monopolised by a few private corporations since the privatisation of state betting offices. TAB Ltd has also held merger talks with Jupiters Casino and the Victorian company Tabcorp Holdings.