Unions Win Massive Discrimination Case

Discrimination by your Employer on the basis of industrial activity is unlawful.

This week the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has handed down a significant decision that confirms the Tasmanian Government discriminated against its workforce on the basis of industrial activity during the stop work meetings held as part of the last Public Sector Union Wages Agreement campaign.

The decision is timely with the current agreement due to expire on 30 June 2022 and negotiations soon to commence.

The discriminatory conduct arose from the public sector unions plan for a mass rally, promoted as a ‘Stop Work Meeting’ to be held on 24 October 2018.

“I was pre-approved flexitime. While I was at the action, I received a text message from my Manager directing me to come back to work.”

CPSU Member, Department of Justice

As the decision states, ‘Correspondence between Ms Jenny Gale and Tom Lynch… dated 4 October 2018 concerning the PSUWA indicates that at least by that date the parties were in conflict’.

With the Government refusing to negotiate in good faith with public sector unions by standing firm on their 2% wages cap – there was no shortage of industrial conflict.

CPSU members took to the streets on weekly marches, implemented work to rule and work bans, and even walked off the job in sites across Tasmania all in aid of a fair wage rise and decent working conditions.

And we won.

In 2019 Tasmanian public sector workers won the first union campaign in any state or territory to overturn a public sector pay cap without changing the Government through the CPSU’s ‘scrap the cap’ campaign.

As a result of this tribunal decision, Ms Jenny Gale (Head of the State Service) and the State of Tasmania will be required to issue an apology to every employee who was impacted from this case.

We believe these apologies should be meaningful and widespread, with deep regret shown for the bullying tactics adopted on behalf of the Tasmanian Government and remuneration granted to any worker who had their pay docked due to refused flexitime.

One CPSU member at the time from the Department of Justice advised us, “I was pre-approved flexitime. While I was at the action, I received a text message from my Manager directing me to come back to work.”

Workers who were denied flexitime were told they would have their pay deducted, with one Human Resources employee advising CPSU members that, “in accordance with the direction from the Head of State Service that pay deductions will occur for any stop work action when staff were absent from duty and/or withdrew their labour, and is consistent with treatment across the public service.”

We also recall the former Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (formerly known as DPIPWE) advising employees that he was “requiring managers to record the names and period of absence for those that choose to participate [in industrial action]. This information will be used to process pay deductions.”

And we certainly haven’t forgotten the Employer’s decision to ban workers with children from taking carer’s leave while union members at the Department of Education took industrial action resulting in school closures, which the CPSU immediately took to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission and won, overturning the decision.

The CPSU also understands that the directions from Department Secretary’s about the industrial action forced many Managers and Supervisors, including CPSU Members, to take actions that they felt were unfair. We hope that the Employer not only apologises to these workers, but never places them in this position again.

Today’s decision is a massive win for union members and serves as a great reminder of why it pays to be union – especially as we stand together and bargain for improved rights and a decent pay rise in the next Public Sector Union Wages Agreement.

As we countdown to 30 June 2022, there’s never been a better time to join the CPSU.

Tasmania’s public sector is a strong union workplace and the Community & Public Sector Union is the union fighting for public services every day.

By joining your union you’re standing up to strengthen the public services Tasmanians want and rely on, as well as making sure you and your colleagues have a strong voice into the future.

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