Nightclub empire Merivale owned by rich-lister Justin Hemmes will boost young workers’ pay rates – in some cases almost doubling them – after the company was forced to drop its outdated “zombie” WorkChoices agreement.
Under a 2007 agreement workers were trapped on a flat rate below award wages for most working hours, meaning they did not get extra pay for working weekends or night shifts.
Two brave young workers, represented by their union, took Merivale to the Fair Work Commission and the company agreed it would adopt award wages from March 4.
The commission was told that compared to Merivale’s existing pay structure, workers should have been receiving much higher rates under the award.
In the move to the current award, a casual worker will be entitled to an hourly rate of $27.48 for Monday to Friday evenings (up 14 per cent on the $24.40 flat rate), $30.33 on Saturdays (up 25 per cent), $35.39 on Sundays (up 46 per cent) and $50.55 on public holidays (up 98 per cent on a slightly higher rate of $25.50).
One of the applicants was out of pocket $3000 in a year – or missed out on getting an extra 20 per cent of his total salary – because the zombie agreement was so far below Award levels.
“I want to publicly acknowledge the bravery of the applicants and the other young workers who stood up and fought for their rights and held Merivale to account,” United Voice national secretary Jo Schofield said.
“Thanks to the young, casual workers who applied to have the agreement terminated thousands of Merivale workers will now be paid the rates that other hospitality workers earn.
“The decision gives notice to other employers on zombie industrial agreements: time’s up, you need to pay your workers fairly.”