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Case 'strong message to employers' about union discrimination

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Richard Wagstaff.
Richard Wagstaff.

The Public Service Association and the Service and Food Workers Union have won a landmark case against a charitable trust which deliberately discriminated against its union employees.

The Employment Relations Authority has found that the PACT Group, which supports people with mental health problems, misled and discriminated against more than 200 union employees by offering a better pay deal to non-union members.

During pay negotiations in 2011 PACT agreed on a 2% pay increase for union members, saying it couldn’t afford anything more.

Soon after the negotiations, it gave all non-union employees the same increase, plus extra money from backdating, which wasn’t available to union members. That was in spite of a written agreement saying it would not discriminate.

The Authority found PACT’s actions to be unlawful and in breach of the collective agreement and said it was guilty of ‘deliberate, serious and sustained’ actions of discrimination against union members.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says this is a significant decision which should send a warning to other employers.

"The decision is a victory against what was a clear attempt to undermine unions. It sends a strong message that employers cannot get away with giving preferential treatment to non-union members."

"PACT was disingenuous throughout the pay negotiation process and its actions showed no respect for its workers who do a great job caring for some of the community’s most vulnerable people," he says.

PACT has been order to pay penalties of $1250 to the PSA, $1250 to the SFWU and $2500 to the Authority.

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