Since 2019, the Broken Hill Town Employees’ Union (BHTEU) has successfully recovered $500,000 in unpaid wages and entitlements for employees of the Far West Local Health District (LHD) working under the former ‘BIC Agreement’.
“However, the wage theft continues despite the union bringing further issues to the LHD’s attention at the beginning of the year”, Ms Ferry said.
“In January, I identified yet another serious and historic underpayment of wages and alerted both the Ministry of Health and the LHD. The fact that it is continuing, despite being made aware, shows that these underpayments are a deliberate act of wage theft and the BHTEU is preparing another formal claim, on behalf of its members, which will be filed in the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court”, Ms Ferry added.
At a mass meeting of BHTEU members last Wednesday night, Rosslyn Ferry, Secretary, reported that the various state award(s) are minimum rates awards and the Ministry continues to specifically target the wages of employees who are employed in a ‘BIC classification’ by refusing to adjust the rates of pay of a few classifications which have fallen below those minimum rates.
“The main purpose for Wednesday’s meeting was to report on the current wages offer and the application by Ministry of Health to vary the Broken Hill Health Employees’ (State) Award by 4 per cent which would only serve to increase this disparity in wages”, Ms Ferry said.
“Compounding this is the refusal to recognize, classify and pay employees correctly, with some employees even being instructed by management to perform duties which are outside their scope of practice and for which they do not hold the required qualifications. What is particularly disturbing is that this has been, and is still, occurring with the full knowledge of the Ministry”, Ms Ferry added.
The meeting also heard that, whilst the Ministry has offered to amend their application, and apply a flat rate increase, this would still disadvantage some BIC classifications.
Ms Ferry reported that whilst the HSU may be content with that, the BHTEU will continue to press its position in relation to the 2023 wage increase to ensure that BIC classifications receive whichever of the two proposals is greater. The BHTEU is also pressing for the BIC climatic allowance to be varied by 7 per cent, the same variation which has been applied to the State Award climatic allowances.