Crown Melbourne Casino Workers Threaten Strike Ahead of Melbourne Cup

Posted on: November 2, 2023, 07:43h. 

Last updated on: November 2, 2023, 10:43h.

Crown Melbourne employees are contemplating a potential strike, as negotiations with Crown Resorts over pay and other considerations reach a critical point. This comes on the heels of casino worker strikes in Las Vegas and Detroit, Mich.

The Crown Melbourne casino resort at night.
The Crown Melbourne casino resort at night. Employees are threatening to strike this weekend ahead of the annual Melbourne Cup. (Image: Crown Melbourne)

The dispute centers around demands for improved pay and working conditions. The employees want a yearly wage increase, enhanced weekend and public holiday pay, and more balanced rosters to support a healthier work-life balance and service-based progression.

The announcement comes about a week after Crown Resorts released its latest financial health report. It recorded revenue of AU$2.7 billion (US$1.7 billion) from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, 44% more than it did a year earlier.

Crown Melbourne was responsible for most of that, increasing its revenue by 49%. Despite the gains, Crown’s recent fines for violating money laundering and other regulations led to a net loss of AU$199 million (US$125 million).

Melbourne Cup Risk

The United Workers Union asserts that a recent ballot vote authorizes all union members to participate in the strike, potentially involving 3,600 workers. Crown Resorts has contested these numbers, challenging the eligibility of such a large workforce to engage in a strike.

The company initially claimed that only 1,700 workers would be permitted to take protected action. Crown Resorts later revised its stance, acknowledging that around 3,100 workers would be eligible.

As tensions rise, the potential strike is strategically timed to coincide with the upcoming Melbourne Cup this weekend. The workers hope this strategic move will exert pressure on Crown Resorts to address their concerns and come to a satisfactory agreement before the high-profile event takes place.

Crown Melbourne is the hospitality services partner of the annual horse racing festivities. It won the rights last year on a three-year deal. A strike during the Melbourne Cup would completely disrupt the visitor experience.

No Time to Waste

The workers’ protests could begin as early as this Saturday, coinciding with Victoria Derby Day. The planned strike may extend until Monday, casting a shadow over the highly anticipated Melbourne Cup scheduled for the following day.

According to the workers’ proposed schedule, operations at Crown Melbourne could come to a standstill during specific hours. The proposed strike times include a halt of activities from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a pause from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The protest would then resume from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday. This three-day work stoppage would effectively impact the operations of the Crown Melbourne during key periods over the weekend.

Last year, according to market research company IER, the Melbourne Cup Carnival had a gross economic impact of AU$3.6 billion (US$2.21 billion) on Victoria. Almost 61K people visited Victoria for the weekend’s events, including tourists from 28 countries, primarily New Zealand and the UK.