Like many security officers, United Voice delegate Jody O’Rourke, makes ends meet by working for a number of different contractors. During past football and cricket seasons, Jody has worked as a casual security officer for Southern Cross Protection at the Blundstone Arena for several years.
Retail Security Services (RSS) was acquired by Southern Cross Protection in Tasmania last year. Southern Cross Protection has continued to use the old RSS enterprise agreement, which has low flat pay rates with no penalties. On weekends, the agreement undercuts the Award by up to $20 an hour.
Jody decided to stand up for other union members, and with the support of United Voice, made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to cancel the RSS Agreement. Southern Cross Protection argued against the cancelation, claiming Jody wasn’t an employee and wasn't able to bring the application to the FWC, as he was a causal. Southern Cross Protection also claimed that casuals are hired and fired on the shift, without the expectation of future employment.
The Fair Work Commission agreed that the jurisdictional argument would need to be tested, and at that stage, Jody and United Voice were unable to proceed to get the agreement canceled, without determining whether or not Jody was an employee. Southern Cross has refused to offer Jody any further shifts since the cancellation application was made in October 2017.
In the application, United Voice revealed that Southern Cross Protection was underpaying their employees, with no increase in wages for a number of years. The company has since offered to back pay employees, but only to the date that they took over the RSS contracts. Southern Cross has claimed they are not liable beyond that. United Voice members think differently.
United Voice is working to cancel dodgy agreements like this one in 2018 to protect and restore the Award. Members and reputable security contractors want to create an even playing field in the security industry. United Voice members like Jody will use whatever process is necessary to win jobs they can count on, jobs that pay a fair wage.
The first step is to build union power on sites to reinforce these applications. Talk to other people you work with about joining you and if you are working under a dodgy old agreement like the Retail Security Services Enterprise Agreement which doesn't provide penalty rates, we want to hear from you. You can email email@example.com with details.