• Helen

Employer VictoryIf It's Broken, Fix It!

Broken Hill epitomises all that our sunburned country is about. Rich heritage, a buzzing art scene, incredible outback hospitality and all amidst a raft of remote challenges that us city folk could not even fathom.

So when I heard about the Broken Hill Town Employee’s Union (BHTEU), launching a campaign against the Demo Club to de-rail enterprise agreement negotiations for over two years, threatening the closure of the Club, I thought there’s something broken here but it’s not this town.

The Damage of Rumour & Propaganda The BHTEU claimed that a group of former managers had been underpaid for over two years as they had not been paid overtime. The amounts claimed were in the hundreds of thousands. The BHTEU briefed lawyers and threatened legal action. They also managed to infiltrate the walls of the Club, encouraging existing and former employees to join the underpayment brigade and stifling the progress of enterprise agreement negotiations. A culture of staff mistrust ensued. Fact from Fiction Were these managers paid overtime? No, they were not. Were they entitled to it? No again. This was because the managers were paid an exemption rate of pay of either 30% or 50% which exempt them from overtime payments. But it did make a good front page story for the ironically named local paper the “Barrier Daily Truth”, conveniently owned and operated by the BHTEU. The Fair Work Commission’s Clout H&R Workplace Strategies were instructed to help fix this mess. An application was filed in the FWC to deal with a dispute in accordance with the Club’s enterprise agreement dispute clause. We sought the FWC’s interpretation of the exemption rate provisions in the agreement and the Club was vindicated when the BHTEU’s interpretation was labelled as “absurd, wrong and illogical” by the FWC. It was also found the BHTEU demonstrated “a lack of empathy for…the employees of the Club, their families and the serious impact on the local community if the Demo Club was to close.” Being Long-Suffering Affects Your Business Remember, all Awards and enterprise agreements have a dispute resolution clause. Never hit your head against a brick wall waiting for the irrational argument to become rational. All this will do is quickly impact on your employee morale and culture. Dispute resolution processes are worth the paper they’re written on and they should be used as soon as internal avenues for dispute resolving have failed. Tip of the day from an outback dusty-red town full of soul - if it’s broken, fix it. Barrier Social Democratic Club Ltd v Broken Hill Town Employees' Union [2018] FWC 877

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