Crown Casino staff threaten strike and alcohol ban on eve of Melbourne Cup Carnival

The union representing workers from Crown Casino is calling on workers to endorse a 24-hour strike on the eve of arguably the biggest event on the Australian sporting calendar.

According to the The Sydney Morning HeraldCrown Melbourne workers could walk off the job or refuse to serve alcohol the day before the Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off with the Victoria Derby.

This comes amid an ongoing pay dispute between Crown Casino and union members working for Crown Melbourne, who are pursuing a pay-increase of five per cent and increased job security.

The workers’ union, United Voice, has threatened to bring the casino’s operations to a halt and is aiming to strike on 1 November due to stalled negotiations between Crown and the union.

The union has reportedly applied with the Fair Work Commission to allow for a ballot of its Crown members and is aiming to have the ballot finished by 28 October to be in a position to strike come November.

“Crown staff work hard to keep the casino running 24/7 and make it the success that it is. When our members strike, Crown simply won’t be able to function,” United Voice acting branch secretary Ben Redford told SMH.

“Workers gave Crown the chance to fix the job security crisis, and they did nothing. Now our members are left with no choice but to escalate their campaign, and will do whatever it takes to win justice.

“These workers live pay cheque to pay cheque. They can’t plan their lives, they’re getting second jobs and even having to put off having kids.”

A report released by the union last month found up to 70 per cent of Crown’s workforce were in part-time or casual work.

United Voice is allegedly pushing for a five per cent wage increase each year under a new three-year enterprise agreement covering 5,000 workers, and has rejected Crown’s offer of a 2.5 per cent annual wage increase.

Crown spokeswoman Natasha Stipanov told SMH the organisation had a “substantive offer on the table”, which formed part of continuing negotiations between both parties.

“Approximately 83 per cent of our workforce are employed on a permanent full-time or part-time basis,” she said.

Stipanov explained to SMH that more than 7,400 people work at Crown, and that the organisation had provided flexible options for staff who prefer part-time or casual work.

“Where staff would like to work additional hours, depending on their availability and trading conditions we strive to provide them with the opportunity to increase their hours worked,” she said.

“Existing part-time and casual staff also have the opportunity to apply for many of the regularly advertised vacant full-time roles across the business.”