The Guardian October 22, 2003


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.

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