Wages battle breaks out at Crown Casino
AUGUST 6 2016
Australia’s largest casino is facing a public dispute with thousands of its gaming and hospitality workers who have rejected management’s wage offer and are demanding more pay for late-night and “graveyard” shifts on weekends.
Delegates for the 5500 workers at Crown Melbourne – Victoria’s biggest single-site employer – last week knocked back a pay rise offer of 2.75 per cent, and are now preparing to “go public” with large-scale protests in the CBD.
Crown Melbourne staff work at least 40 weekends a year. Photo: Justin McManus
Crown staff are ramping up pressure for an increase of at least 5 per cent a year and new allowances of up to $3 an hour for all weekend work that falls between 7pm and 7am.
The industrial feud is the latest to erupt over the issue of weekend pay, and comes just weeks before the Fair Work Commission will deliver a much-anticipated ruling on whether to slash loadings across several industries nationally.
A feud over weekend pay for 5500 Crown gaming and hospitality workers is ready to erupt. Photo: Ray Kennedy
Casino union United Voice and Crown management have been scrapping over the terms of a new wage deal since April, but the negotiations now appear deadlocked.
Union officials say they are collecting “hundreds of personal stories” of family events and milestones missed by employees who gave up their weekends to work at the casino.
“Most Crown Melbourne staff work at least 40 or more weekends per year and say this means they routinely miss out on birthdays, weddings and children’s milestones; even simple catch-ups with friends are often impossible,” the union said.
In recent weeks, Crown staff have plastered noticeboards in the casino with their stories.
One worker wrote: “I used to have a lot of friends. Friends stop calling me to go out because I often have to work on the weekend. I’m sad. I have no friends any more.”
Another said: “I missed multiple family parties and get-togethers. Times when my grandparents, my parents, my brothers and sisters and my daughter have been present but I haven’t. Family and moments like these are precious. I can’t get these occasions back.”
Crown workers – including gaming staff, hospitality staff, security guards and cleaners – will attend a mass public demonstration in Melbourne on Friday.
Under Crown’s existing pay rates, a trained food and beverage attendant earns $22 an hour, or $44,000 a year.
A first-year table games dealer earns $24 an hour, about $47,000 a year, which progressively increases to about $60,000 after five years.
Instead of receiving weekend and overnight penalty rates, the Crown agreement pays employees better overall hourly wages.
A Crown spokesman said its employees received higher pay than the award – the basic wages safety net –and negotiations for the new deal were continuing.
“Crown employees continue to receive higher pay and conditions than the tourism and hospitality industry,” he said.
“Since 2013, Crown Melbourne has added more than 1000 new jobs and provided existing staff with valuable training and career development opportunities.”
United Voice said the new allowances requested for Friday and Saturday-night shifts would give staff an extra $20, “about the price Crown charges for a cocktail”.
State secretary Jess Walsh said the casino giant was refusing to recognise workers’ sacrifices that contributed to Crown Melbourne’s $662 million profits, an increase of 30 per cent, last year.
“Our members are proud of the world-class service they provide but feel it’s time that Crown management recognise the sacrifices they make working on weekends and their contribution to Crown’s success. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to win the respect and recognition they deserve,” she said.
“Working at Crown means they miss out on important events with family and friends. There is also a heavy health cost to working these hours. It’s time Crown recognised these sacrifices.”