United Voice members working at Department of Human Services sites in the ACT have secured a big win, successfully vetoing major roster changes that threatened their pay packets and their work-life balance.
“Once we realised what the company was doing we came together as a unit and stood up for our rights and way of life,” said Bill Freeman, a United Voice delegate.
“The results speak for themselves. United we are strong, alone we are weak. When we worked together we accomplished our goal.”
Guards, employed by Secom Australia at DHS sites, have long worked a “four on, four off” 12-hour roster, with guards working either permanent days or nights – that is, their shifts don’t rotate.
The roster is favoured by the guards as it allows for work/life balance, caring and family responsibilities, and established sleeping patterns.
However, in mid-July their employer announced plans to move to an eight-hour rotating roster, moving to eight-hour shifts, across days, afternoons and nights.
The changes were seen as highly disruptive to the workers’ established work-life balance, and also meant a pay cut of between $180 and $300 in fortnightly pay.
United Voice argued there was not sufficient consultation for the roster change and that the impact on guards had not been properly taken into account, filing a dispute with the Fair Work Commission in early August.
In response to United Voice filing with the Fair Work Commission, the company agreed to hold back on implementing the roster changes, extend the consultation period, and enter into discussions with the union, agreeing to consider alternative roster proposals.
The dispute gained significant media coverage, being covered by the Canberra Times and talkback radio station 2CC.
Beyond this, United Voice guards also received a show of solidarity from the public service union, with CPSU delegates collecting almost 150 signatures in support of DHS guards.
Late last week, a formal agreement between United Voice Secom members and Secom Australia was reached.
Secom Australia agreed to continue operating the popular ‘four on, four off’ non-rotating twelve hour roster in exchange for guards agreeing to extend their ordinary hours each shift.
Secom Australia also agreed to full-time conversion for a significant number of casual employees working more than 38 hours.