Two years ago, Aquis Reef Holdings acquired Casino Canberra. The ailing casino then underwent a $14 million refurbishment, and is set to reopen shortly. Staff from gaming, security and surveillance, and food and beverage, are not satisfied with their wages. The union made the decision to take industrial action as the Casino Canberra staff protest their low pay.
United Voice ACT Protests Against Casino Canberra
There have been negotiations regarding the pay of the union staff members since February this year. Aquis Entertainment has claimed that they stepped in and saved a business that was failing, and that their workers receive reasonable rates of pay, and good working conditions.
The union has noted that the base pay of those affected is between $19, and $22 per hour, and that a three percent raise should be given. While the casino owners are of the opinion that staff are well-compensated, Lyndal Ryan, the United Voice ACT secretary has pointed out that top executives are receiving large salaries, and millions have been spent on refurbishing the casino. She explained that the lower wage earners have only requested a modest increase in their wages, and have been turned down.
Ryan said: "The casino spends millions on promotions and the like but still cries poor when it comes to wage increases for the very people who actually generate their revenue. The increase sought by the workers is moderate - three percent above the award minimum. We are hoping that senior executives take a long-term view and deliver the fair wages our members are seeking."
Aquis Entertainment Responds
Aquis Entertainment disagrees with this assessment, noting that its staff already receive above award wages, and that they receive additional benefits, such as higher penalty rates than hospitality usually awards. This is notable in an industry in which most of the work is done during the evening, night, or weekend.
Aquis issued a statement that noted: "Aquis Entertainment has worked proactively with United Voice to progress negotiations and we have agreed to a number of proposals put forward by the union as part of the process. Accordingly, we are concerned that the proposed industrial action, which may affect customer service in the short term and patronage in the longer term, is counter productive not only to the casino but to its employees, including those that United Voice represents."