Valet parking staff called ‘bloodsucking vampires’

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Valet parking staff called ‘bloodsucking vampires’

The Australian Services Union (ASU) says it has been ‘vindicated’ by a damning report by the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate into AWAs offered to valet parking workers at Qantas airport terminals.

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The Australian Services Union (ASU) says it has been ‘vindicated’ by a damning report by the Victorian Workplace Rights Advocate into AWAs offered to valet parking workers at Qantas airport terminals.

The report says valet parking staff were called ‘bloodsucking vampires’ when they asked for a better deal than the AWAs were offering.

Considerably worse off

It also says that employees who work shifts ‘will be considerably worse off’ and raises questions as to whether the AWAs would pass the Workplace Authority’s fairness test.

The Advocate’s report says the valet staff were told by a manager:

  • their positions had been advertised on a job website and that the company did not want to employ ‘troublemakers’
  • they had 24 hours to indicate whether they wanted to ‘continue with the employment process’ and company
  • they were ‘bloodsucking vampires’ after they asked for better conditions
  • employees also were berated for their public campaign against the AWAs.

Equity Valet director John Demetre did not respond to questions from the Advocate during the compilation of the report.

The Advocate’s inquiry was launched in February after the ASU raised concerns about the AWAs being offered by Equity Valet Parking (EVP) at Melbourne’s airport.

EVP was taking over Qantas’ valet parking contract from Hertz Australia, and only offering existing workers employment in the form of a five-year AWA.

Despite repeated attempts by the union to negotiate a collective agreement EVP refused and those workers who moved over from Hertz had to sign the AWAs.

Vindicated

ASU branch secretary Ingrid Stitt today (Monday) welcomed the release of the report and said it vindicated the union’s concerns.

‘Equity Valet Parking rushed these AWAs through in the dying days of WorkChoices and the Advocate has found that workers will be significantly worse off under the individual contracts,’ she said.

‘The company tried to paint it as a union scare campaign, but now an independent authority has validated our concerns and has asked for further investigations.'

‘What we want to see now is the employer sitting down and negotiating collectively for an agreement that is both legally and morally sound.’

Stitt said the conditions at this company need to be brought up to an acceptable standard immediately.

Real risk

The Workplace Advocate Report found:

  • the change in the definition of ordinary hours of work posed ‘a real risk that employees will be denied an entitlement to overtime and penalty loadings otherwise payable under the Award’
  • the unpaid parental leave provisions are less than the Award
  • that despite the 4 per cent per annum wage increase offered by Equity Valet Parking, ‘employees who generally work shifts will be considerably worse off’
  • the six-month probationary period was excessive
  • the notice period clause may breach the Workplace Relations Act
  • serious concerns about the loss of a range of award entitlements such as accident make-up pay, paid jury service and redundancy protections
  • a clause requiring customer service staff to pay $100 if there was a car accident potentially breached Workplace Relations regulations

The Advocate has asked the Workplace Ombudsman to re-investigate allegations of duress, to determine whether company management breached the Workplace Relations Act.

He has also provided a copy of the report to the Director of the Workplace Authority over concerns that the AWAs would not pass the federal fairness test.

Ripped off

Stitt said Qantas Valet Parking dispute was another example of how WorkChoices ripped off workers by taking away workplace rights and conditions.

‘The sooner collective bargaining rights are introduced into law, the better. What happened to our valet parking workers should not happen again,’ she said.

The Qantas Valet Parking dispute was also highlighted in the Senate Inquiry report into the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008. That report said the dispute was a ‘major example of the abuse inflicted on workers by the use of AWAs’.


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