Brisbane Casino workers prepare for wage action

WORKERS AT Brisbane’s Treasury Casino are getting restless. The casino EBA expired on December 31, 2008. Since negotiations started in November 2008, Tabcorp, the Casino owners, have made just one paltry offer of a 3.5 per cent wage rise.
A further offer from Casino management was expected soon after Solidarity went to press. Demands for wage restraint and cries of poverty from the Casino bosses have been a constant feature of the protracted negotiations.
But a recent survey of the casino’s Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMWU) members showed that more than 80 per cent were not prepared to accept a wage increase of less than 5 per cent.
Over half of those surveyed also said they would be prepared to stage a one day strike should Casino bosses make an offer that is less than fair. Still more are prepared to strike for a shorter period. In some sections, like stewarding and security, which have led the calls for action, there is even stronger support for industrial action.
Delay after delay has left many of the 1300 workers demanding to know when their much-needed pay rise is coming. This is a deliberate management tactic. Management has said they will only pay back pay if Tabcorp’s next offer is accepted. The longer negotiations are delayed, the bigger the potential back pay sum will be. They are hoping that the combination of frustration and the fear of losing a few hundred dollars may persuade some workers to accept whatever they offer.
But the tactic could back fire. As frustration with management’s stalling tactics grows, so does the demand that full back pay is part of the settlement of the EB negotiations.
Management’s excuses for offering less than a 5 per cent wage rise are laughable.
Workers have been told, “Everybody’s struggling” and “There is no money,” to pay for a decent increase. But Tabcorp, Australia’s gaming giant, raked in $820 million profit last year and forecasts for the coming year are strong. Furthermore, the Treasury Casino itself has expansion plans underway for a new gaming floor. Claims from the bosses that they are doing it tough have convinced no one.
Some Casino workers have been surprised and disgruntled when they heard that the LHMU has national policy supporting the Federal government calls for wage restraint. Such a policy flies in the face of the Casino workers claim for 5 per cent a year increase and workers are worried it could be used to try and get them to accept a cut in their real wages.
A petition opposing the LHMU policy and calling for full support of Casino workers 5 per cent claim is being circulated amongst LHMU members who have responded with an overwhelming “No”’ to wage restraint.
A rank and file bulletin, “The Real Deal” by LHMU Casino workers is also circulating in the Casino to counter the bosses’ arguments that Tabcorp cannot afford to pay and to build support for our full pay claim with no trade-offs. “The Real Deal” can be contacted at [email protected]
By an LHMU Casino worker


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