FWC kills off "zombie" deals

Wednesday 23 January, 2019 | By: Workplace Express | Tags: Fair Work, Fair Work Commission;

Thousands of retail and hospitality workers sitting on lower-paying "zombie" deals will revert to their respective awards from early March after the FWC terminated a 2007 agreement for Justin Hemmes' Merivale hospitality company and a 2011 Specialty Fashion Group deal.

Deputy President Peter Sams this week found it would not be contrary to the public interest to terminate Merivale's 2007 agreement, which nominally expired in December 2012, covers almost 3000 workers and – according to United Voice – short-changed some by more than 20%.

The termination will take affect on March 4, after Merivale sought time to put in place "necessary system changes" across numerous workplaces.

This includes Sydney's Coogee Pavilion, where one of two United Voice members who applied for the termination says he earned a flat rate of $23.66 for all shifts between Monday and Sunday at any hour of the day, rising to $25.51 an hour on public holidays (see Related Article).

Under the Hospitality Award, the union says the casual bar back glass collector would earn an hourly base rate of $24.34, rising to $26.54 for weekday evening work, $29.21 an hour on Saturdays, $34.07 on Sundays and $48.68 on public holidays.

According to their application, obtained by Workplace Express, another worker claims to be paid a flat $24.46 rate and $25.51 on public holidays, with the union alleging the applicable hourly award rate is $27.48 for casual evening work during the week, $30.33 an hour on Saturdays, $35.39 on Sundays and $50.55 on public holidays.

United Voice national secretary Jo-anne Schofield says the termination "gives notice to other employers on zombie industrial agreements" that "time's up, you need to pay your workers fairly".

Schofield said outdated conditions in the Merivale agreement had "preyed on vulnerable young workers, paying them sub-award rates" and the union was "disappointed that it took the threat of legal action" for it to agree to adopt the provisions of the hospitality award.

Merivale people experience manager Kate Tones in a statement last November to ABC's 7.30 said the company took "an industry lead in ensuring its compliance with national employment standards and the applicable industrial instruments".

Referring to Merivale's own audits and a recent FWC review that found no non-compliance, Tones said the company was "confident that all Merivale staff are paid their full legal entitlements according to the relevant industrial instrument and the national employment standards".

Tomes today told Workplace Express that "based on a sensible agreement with United Voice and yesterday confirmed by the Fair Work Commission", Merivale's agreement would "reach its end date" in March and staff would transition to the relevant awards.

"Given the differences between the operation of the two systems, and the functional adaptations required by this transition, there will be a number of administrative and operational changes for Merivale and its staff," Tomes said.

"Merivale will continue to deliver exceptional product and service across all of its venues and will remain a workplace of choice for our staff."

This article was originally published on Workplace Express.

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