Australian Unions
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Latest News From Working Life

ACTU mourns loss of New Zealand union leader Helen Kelly

The trade union movement has suffered a devastating loss, with the passing yesterday of Helen Kelly, the former President of New Zealand’s Council of Trade Unions.

Underemployment a growing concern

Last week’s ABS employment data raised the usual discussion about unemployment trends across the country. But one key are overlooked by many is perhaps the most worrying part of the release: underemployment is becoming the norm.

Questions at Work

unpaid wages

Jordan asks:
 
I am currently working for a company that is not paying our tax or super and doesn't give us pay slips. They also haven’t paid the five workers here anything in a month. We don’t know what to do. I know we could just leave but then we’ll never get our money. Is there anything we can do?
 
Jordan your boss is neglecting to fulfill their most basic responsibilities to their staff – it’s not just morally wrong. They are breaking the law. This is just ridiculous -they’ve given you no money for a month!  How are you all expected to buy food? Pay rent?  Pay your bills?
 
So let’s talk about what should be happening (and isn’t)
 
It’s your right as an employee to be paid on time, every time. It doesn’t matter if you’re paid in cash or the money is deposited into your bank account – the point is it has to be given to you when it’s due.
 
When you started you would’ve provided your boss with your Tax File Number and filled out a Tax File Number Declaration form. Your boss must take out tax from your pay every pay cycle.
 
You are legally entitled  to a pay slip every pay. It doesn’t matter if it’s emailed to you or in hardcopy – the point is, you need to receive it. It needs to list: your hourly rate, how much you earned before and after tax, details of any penalty rates and the hours and times you earned them, any allowances payable, and list any lawful agreed upon deductions (e.g. union fees)
 
If you are entitled  to superannuation and it needs to be paid on time by your employer into your superannuation account.  
 
These aren’t perks that good bosses give to their staff - they are obligations every employer must abide by under the law.
 
So what can you do? You don’t mention if you’re union members. If you are, you need to call your union immediately and let them know what’s going on. But let’s assume you’re not members. There are five of you so try to support each other and take action together. It’s much easier to stand up for yourselves as a group. How would you all feel about starting with writing a joint letter to your boss (signed in alphabetical order so no one emerges as the ring-leader) outlining their responsibilities. Remember to keep a copy for yourselves. You have six years to make an official underpayment of wages claim, (which can be helpful if you’re hesitant to approach your employer; as you can make a claim after you’ve found your next job.) Realistically though Jordan,  given that you haven’t been paid for a month it seems as though the business  might be in financial difficulty in which case you all need to get onto this asap.
 
Why don’t you give us a call? We can go into more detail about what you can all do and where to lodge complaints. We have a toll free number 1300 486 466. Don’t worry it’s a confidential service so your boss won’t know you’ve called us. Of course the best thing anyone can do to make sure they have someone on their side at work is join a union. Honestly, it’s just too hard on your own, as you guys have all found out. When you call we can also have a chat to you about what this would involve, who the right union for you would be and how much the fees would be.
 
Remember what you’re asking for is rightfully yours. You’ve all earned it and worked hard for it. And there’s something you can do to chase up what’s rightfully yours. Give us a call. Here’s the number again 1300 486 466.Hope we get to speak to you soon.

Support for asbestos victims

Maree asks: We just found out yesterday that my dad has mesothelioma. The whole family is just beside ourselves and we don’t know what to do. He was a builder so he could’ve been exposed to asbestos on any number of occasions. We don’t know where to turn. Can you refer us to something in Queensland?

Should I be paid for any overtime I work?

Leonie asks: I work for the local council and I’ve just now changed jobs within the council. I’m not being paid for overtime or coming in on the weekends.

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