Staff locked out, without pay!

Five aged care employees have been locked out of their workplace, without pay, because they took industrial action against their employer.

By Yasmin Noone

An aged care employer has locked five of its employees out of the workplace for two weeks, without pay, because they took industrial action through their union.

The long-running industrial dispute between West Australian facility, Carinya of Bicton, and sector union, United Voice, which has lasted around nine months to-date, reached a stalemate last week following the staff lockout.

United Voice WA branch secretary, Dave Kelly, said the aged care workers were locked out because they attended a community cabinet meeting instead of showing up to work, even though the union had requested a roster change 10 days prior.
The staff lockout is Carinya’s second this year – the earlier lockout took place in February after union members threatened to take industrial action over low wages. The organisation’s decision to lock staff out for seven days was overturned after four days, following a Fair Work Australia ruling which deemed the lockout was illegal.

“We had five members who were rostered to work [on the night of the community cabinet meeting] so we notified Carinya, with 10 days notice, saying that they would be taking industrial action of four hours to go attend,” Mr Kelly said. 

“Management advised us on a Monday that anyone who was to participate on Wednesday would be locked out for 14 days. Our members decided they wouldn’t be intimidated so the five attended.”

Mr Kelly said that a total of 20 employees joined the community cabinet meeting in Freemantle last week, in a bid to raise the issue of low wages with the Prime Minister who also attended.

Carinya’s management informed all staff and bargaining representatives of its intention to lockout striking union members through an urgent memo, obtained by AAA.

“United Voice, the bargaining representative for some employees of Carinya of Bicton, has given notice that its members will be taking industrial action on 30 March 2011 from 4-8pm,” the memo said.

“If you are a United Voice member and are absent for any reason from your workplace or leave your workplace during this time, you will be taken to have engaged in industrial action.

“United Voice members concerned are hereby notified that if you take part in this industrial action, you will be locked out of the workplace for the following 14 days and you will not be allowed to work any shift before 7am Thursday 14 April 2011.”

Around 50 of Carinya’s workers also walked off the job with a series of rolling four-hour strikes over low wages in January.

Mr Kelly said that its members are currently paid $18.66 per hour, while the highest level worker earns $20.77 an hour. This, he said, is in stark contrast to what workers at the nearby Amana Living aged care facility get paid, which is  $20.19 for entry level employees (see AAA story from January).

“The stalemate continues,” said Mr Kelly. “Our members aren’t going to back down. The employer’s decision to lock people out for 14 days only serves to inflame these things.

“If management thought it was going to get people to back down [by locking them out], they were they are wrong. Our members will continue to press the company for a reasonable agreement.”

“They members are feeling pretty stressed by it all. They can’t believe that their employer could take such drastic action for taking a four-hour stoppage with 10 days notice.

“The intent of the action wasn’t to cause disruption to the care of residents at the facility. It was to raise the issue of aged care wages with the Prime Minister at the community cabinet meeting.

“One woman has worked for them for 32 years. She’s given all of these years of service and they have taken such aggressive action.

“I’m amazed. I’ve never come across an aged care employer before who has taken such dramatic action in like this before.

“You have to say that, at the moment, there is no clear end in site but …our members are just determined to keep going. [Carinya] needs to understand that the issue is not going to go away.”

United Voice is currently undertaking action against the facility in the Federal Magistrate’s Court to recover wages lost, incurred during the first lock out (deemed to be illegal).

AAA approached Carinya of Bicton but management declined to comment.

Tags: aged-care, carinya-of-bicton, dave-kelly, industrial-dispute, united-voice, wages,

1 thought on “Staff locked out, without pay!

  1. This issue is a direct result of the government setting a new Aged Care award that is less than the previous award and makes the worker worse off than the past award.
    the provider is suffering a loss under funding and the new awards restrict alternatives. I believe that providers are trapped and workers are being used as a tool

    sort it out Nurses Union.

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