In 2016, United Voice members at Allwater won a fair Enterprise Agreement through industrial action and unity.
As part of this Agreement, workers won wage increases of 2% per year, the first to be backdated to 1 January 2016.
This was a great achievement by United Voice members at Allwater.
However, when the new Agreement was approved four United Voice members were not paid their backpay.
Dean, Philip, Corey and Ron were all on Workcover for various work-related injuries when workers’ backpay was paid by Allwater.
Because “current earnings” can be deducted from Workcover payments, Allwater deducted the members’ backpay from their Workcover payments – instead of paying it to the members themselves.
So these four United Voice members did not see a cent of backpay.
When members raised this with the union, the industrial team filed a dispute.
United Voice argued that this wasn’t “current earnings” – it was backpay, and previous earnings cannot be deducted from Workcover payments.
Allwater maintained that what they had done was allowed.
So United Voice took the case all the way to trial – and won.
Ron said, “The whole process took a really long time, and it was really stressful at times. We were getting frustrated by all the delays and because at every meeting, the amounts that the company was using would change.
“It was all over the place.
“Then after a lot of negotiations, the judge said yes, we were entitled to backpay.
“This is money that we’ve earned. If you’re entitled to wages or backpay, your employer should just pay it – end of story.
“The boys are happy now that it’s finally over. Now we’re just waiting on all the calculations to be worked out.”
At the time of print, the amount of backpay for each member was still being calculated.