42,000 club workers are in limbo today. Clubs Australia’s application to attack the penalty rates of club workers is in complete disarray with their last-minute application to change their case. The Fair Work Commission had been hearing their case for more than a week when the industry body decided to lob a grenade at the whole process, change their case and go even harder on their attack to worker pay.
Clubs Australia has now abandoned its initial application to move to a revised Hospitality Award while protecting a large number of special provisions for clubs.
Now Clubs Australia has applied to drop almost all provisions specific to clubs from the revised hospitality award. This leaves club workers still at risk of losing their penalty rates, but raises further questions about access to existing entitlements that are specific and unique to clubs workers.
Jo-anne Schofield, National Secretary of United Voice, the club union says, “Just as the case was supposed to be wrapping up to allow the Commission to work towards a decision, Clubs Australia have shown contempt for the whole process by moving at the last minute to change their case yet again.
“United Voice has never seen such a shambolic performance by an industry body in the Fair Work Commission. It is inconceivable that Clubs Australia have once again changed their case after being given a second chance by the Fair Work Commission to re-prosecute their failed case from the original penalty rate case.
“They are continuing to show contempt for Australia’s 42,000 club workers who will have no certainty over their wages and entitlements until at least October.
“The whole sorry process has put the club sector at war. There is now a split between the out-of-touch Clubs Australia and the local clubs that act in the interests of their communities and their workers.
“In the hearing, Clubs Australia could only put one club forward that supported cutting penalty rates. The union had a number of clubs appear to give evidence that have rejected outright the move by their peak association to cut rates.
“The Queensland RSL and Services Clubs Association, representing services clubs throughout Queensland, has also appeared before the commission in its own right rejecting the arguments made by Clubs Australia.
More than 50 clubs have now made submissions to the Fair Work Commission opposing the unfair and unaffordable move to cut penalty rates.
“Just what do Clubs Australia want? This is an organisation that is spectacularly out of step with its own members and the community it purports to serve. They have created a mess.”
Special tax conditions called into question
Evidence before the commission shows the move to further downplay differences between pubs and clubs endangers special conditions won by clubs historically.
The Clubs Australia argument that for the purposes of the Award that they are similar to hospitality venues calls into question the special tax conditions for poker machines clubs in Queensland and NSW enjoy.
- In NSW, clubs pay significantly lower gaming tax rates than hotels.
- Clubs that make less than $1 million in annual gaming machine profit pay no tax on the profits. In contrast, hotels that make less than $200,000 in gaming machine profit pay no tax on the profits.
- Clubs do not pay any gaming machine tax on profits up to $9,500 per month, whereas hotels pay gaming machine tax on all
- Clubs do not pay a health services levy on gaming machine profits, whereas hotels do.
Jo-anne Schofield says, “Are they pubs or clubs? The arguments run by Clubs Australia that they are just like a hospitality venue calls into question the need for their favoured tax status. Their business arguments just don’t stack up.
“If they are saying they are the same as pubs, why should they have generous tax concessions?
“The gambling wealth behind the sector exposed in the Fair Work Commission, calls into question the need to attack their weekend workers and the morals behind their case.”