News briefs 04/12/12


News briefs 04/12/12

Qantas strike may strand WA FIFO workers | Melbourne clerk underpaid $82,200 | NSW council merger deception to cost thousands of jobs, says union.


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Qantas strike may strand WA FIFO workers | Melbourne clerk underpaid $82,200 | NSW council merger deception to cost thousands of jobs, says union.

Qantas strike may strand FIFO workers
Qantas pilots have voted to take strike action, which may strand most of WA’s FIFO (fly in, fly out) workers as well as thousands of other QantasLink passengers.

More than 85 pilots belonging to the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots have voted to stage work bans and stoppages in support of their demands against employer Cobham Aviation Services.

Cobham is contracted by QantasLink to run most of its services in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and northern Queensland, and the proposed strike would take place across the three regions.

TWU spokesman Rick Burton said the union had not yet decided when to call the strike, and would continue negotiating with Cobham.

The major sticking point was the rate for a position known as first officers, who earn one-half of a captain’s rate. Burton said the TWU was seeking 65 per cent of the rate but Cobham was offering 55 per cent.

‘The mining companies should get the Greyhounds (coach services) ready,’ Burton said.
‘This is definitely not an idle threat.’

Burton claimed Cobham pilots flew nearly three-quarters of all passengers to and from Western Australia’s regional areas, and he believed it unlikely smaller operators such as SkyWest and Skipper’s Aviation would be able to cover the service for delayed passengers.

QantasLink flies to the State’s major resources centres Karratha, Newman, Paraburdoo, Port Hedland and Kalgoorlie.
A spokesman for Cobham would not reveal whether it had a contingency plan in the event of a strike.

‘We remain committed to the bargaining process and believe that industrial action being initiated while discussions are ongoing would be unreasonable and without justification,’ he said.

‘We wish to remain engaged and work towards a constructive and mutually acceptable solution and do not see how protected industrial action is warranted or assists the process.’

Clerk underpaid $82,200 over six years
Meanwhile, a clerical workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs has been back paid $82,200 after six years of underpayment.

He was one of the workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs who have been back paid a total of $174,300 following recent intervention by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The male Kingsville employee in his 20s lodged a complaint with Ombudsman, after he was underpaid the minimum hourly rate and penalty rates over six years.

After a Fair Work inspector contacted the business and explained its obligations, the employee was reimbursed all monies owed without the need for further action against the employer.

Other recent recoveries include:
  • $19,500 for a St Albans hairdresser underpaid wages from 2008 to 2011
  • $12,000 for a manager at Williamstown underpaid redundancy entitlements on termination of employment
  • $10,000 for a worker at Flemington underpaid wages and penalty rates between 2008 and 2011
  • $9500 for a clerical worker at Melton underpaid penalty rates over a six-year period
  • $9000 for a Werribee manager underpaid redundancy entitlements upon termination of employment
  • $8200 for a tradesman a Deer Park underpaid wages, payment in lieu of notice and annual leave entitlements upon termination of employment
  • $7900 for a Ravenhall manager underpaid long service leave entitlements
  • $5900 for a real estate agent at Werribee underpaid wages and annual leave entitlements upon termination of employment
  • $5100 for a Werribee salesperson underpaid annual leave entitlements upon termination of employment.
  • $5000 for an apprentice at Hoppers Crossing underpaid wages and travel allowances.

Fair Work Ombudsman Nicholas Wilson said when Fair Work inspectors identify a problem and contact a business, most employers check their records, realise a problem has occurred, and fix it immediately.

‘When we find mistakes, we’re here to assist and give practical advice to employers on how to voluntarily resolve issues,’ he said.

‘The businesses involved have now corrected the errors that led to the underpayments and put processes in place to ensure they will not happen again.’

‘Deceptive’ NSW council mergers could cost thousands of jobs
In New South Wales, the United Services Union (USU) has warned that tens of thousands of jobs will be shed if the O’Farrell Government breaks an explicit election promise by merging councils across Sydney.

The State Government’s secret plan to push compulsory council mergers has been revealed in today’s Daily Telegraph, with mergers to begin as soon as March.

USU’s general secretary, Graeme Kelly, said the secret amalgamation plan amounted to a three-pronged attack on NSW families and communities.

‘This Government is a wolf in lamb’s clothing,’ Kelly said.
‘Barry O’Farrell promised there would be no council mergers before the State election, yet now we see they’ve had a plan for mass mergers sitting in the bottom drawer all along.’

‘Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake if this plan goes ahead. This will be felt in living rooms across the state, as council workers begin coming home with redundancy notices instead of pay cheques.’

‘It’s not just the direct workforce either. This plan is about re-orienting local government contracts away from small business and community level operators and making them juicier for big corporate interests.’

‘Communities will suffer. Barry O’Farrell’s plan will silence dissent and put more power in the hands of very few people.’

‘The United Services Union will now move to a permanent campaign footing to fight this attack on jobs, families and communities.’
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