Crown Melbourne Casino Workers Protest Weekend Wages

Posted on: August 12, 2016, 10:34h. 

Last updated on: August 12, 2016, 10:34h.

Crown Melbourne casino workers union protest
Crown Melbourne casino workers are demanding higher pay plus an additional bonus for overnight weekend shifts. (Image: Wayne Taylor/The Age)

Crown Melbourne casino workers held a public demonstration Friday evening outside the Melbourne Convention Centre in protest of overnight weekend wages paying the same rate as weekday night shifts.

The United Voice Casino Union has been negotiating with the casino for higher pay for employees who work 7 pm to 7 am on Friday and Saturday. The union is seeking a $3 AUD ($2.31 USD) per hour surcharge for the graveyard shifts.

In addition, the union is also after a five percent raise for all workers at all hours. Crown offered a 2.75 percent increase but the proposal was rejected.

Crown Melbourne compromises two city blocks and is the largest casino complex in the Southern Hemisphere. With roughly 5,500 employees, the resort is Victoria’s largest single employer.

United Voice said of its protest, “We have told the casino that we are serious. Now it’s time to show them. While they think we are already paid enough, we know they don’t make record profits without us.”

Weekend Warriors

For now, the union is taking a more civilized approach compared to walking off the job in strike. On Friday evening, some 200 protestors turned out along the promenade.

The group circled the casino chanting for higher wages and holding signs displaying their demands.

While the five percent all-encompassing raise is one wish of the union, it seems more gung-ho on the weekend surcharge.

“Most Crown Melbourne staff work at least 40 or more weekends per year and say this means they routinely miss out on birthdays, weddings and children’s milestones,” the union declared in a statement.

“The impact this has can be heart-breaking. Many feel they’ve lost touch with important people in their lives, because they weren’t there for weddings, birthdays and funerals,” union official Jess Walsh said.

A union survey found that 70 percent of respondents claim to have missed a wedding due to work, and 75 percent say they missed Christmas celebrations on multiple occasions.

Crown Defends Rates

The cost of living in Melbourne is certainly not cheap, as the city is one of the richest in the entire country. But Crown says its workforce is not underpaid.

“Crown employees continue to receive higher pay and conditions than the tourism and hospitality industry,” a Crown spokesperson recently told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Since 2013, Crown Melbourne has added more than 1,000 new jobs and provided existing staff with valuable training and career development opportunities.”

A first-year table games dealer pulls in nearly $40,000 a year, and that figure balloons to $50,000 after five years. Food and beverage workers make on average around $37,000 at the Crown Melbourne resort.

Monthly rent for a furnished 900-square-foot apartment in Melbourne averages $2,100 not including utilities. That means for many casino workers, more than 50 percent of their annual income is going towards rent should they opt to live downtown.

Crown Melbourne pulled in $662 million in profits last year, a 30 percent increase compared to 2014.

It’s unclear what the union plans to do next should Crown maintain its 2.75 percent raise increase offer with no overnight weekend benefits.