July 26, 2021
Members at Victoria’s Yallourn Power Station will be backpaid shift penalties after the union challenged the way Energy Australia had calculated public holiday loadings for seven years.
After launching legal proceedings against EnergyAustralia, our Victorian District reached a settlement which will see 100 operators receive in the vicinity of $10,000 each, adding up to around a million dollars.
Only Mining and Energy Union members are covered by the settlement and will receive the backpay.
District Secretary Geoff Dyke said it was an unusual case, because members were unaware of the discrepancy in EnergyAustralia’s calculations.
However, when representing a member on another matter, Geoff noticed that double time and a half public holiday loadings had been applied to base rather than normal rates, which include weekend and evening penalties.
The union then challenged Energy Australia’s application of public holiday loadings over the past two Enterprise Agreements, signed in 2013 and 2017.
The company’s interpretation meant that workers had effectively lost their weekend and night shift penalties when a public holiday loading was applied.
The union argued there was no basis in the Enterprise Agreement for removing these penalties.
Geoff Dyke said legal proceedings had taken nearly two years, with the company finally agreeing to an out of court settlement, thus avoiding a potential fine for breaching the terms of its Enterprise Agreement.
“This is a great result. The purpose of Enterprise Agreements is to set out the terms and conditions of employment – employers can’t just interpret them in their own interests to save money,” he said.
“Many thanks to our legal team and our delegates at Yallourn for seeing this matter through and securing this great win for members. It really does pay to belong.”
Members are due to receive their payments, covering the missed penalty rates plus interest, over the next couple of weeks.
The most recent Yallourn Enterprise Agreement, signed in 2020, made clear that public holiday loadings were to be applied on top of any penalties.
In another legal victory last week, the union has successfully prevented an attempt by EnergyAustralia to vary the Enterprise Agreement to limit the applicability of a clause allowing workers a substitute day off if a public holiday falls on a weekend.