The Union regularly receives queries and requests for assistance from members with suspected underpayments, being incorrectly classified or requests for Flexible Working Arrangements being rejected, along with difficulties with career progression.
One of the most persistent queries is around suspected underpayments.
This issue, something akin to wage theft, was spectacularly highlighted with the underpayments discovered at South West Healthcare which delivers healthcare for Warrnambool City and the Shires of Corangamite, Glenelg, Moyne and Southern Grampians.
Members began reporting their concerns about being underpaid covering a range of matters like not being paid Allowances correctly. It became clear that there was a problem at South West Healthcare and affected multiple staff.
The Union began to investigate the matter to confirm the suspicions of members being underpaid and it was sad to confirm their concerns and shameful to learn the extent of underpayments. When approached to address the matter, South West Healthcare didn’t want to
What’s worse is that since the underpayments affect multiple members who not only work in South West Victoria but also live in South West Victoria, it has a multiplier effect in those communities.
For a public health service to refuse to address underpayments for their staff hurts other local businesses and the community as a whole, as those staff have been denied their entitled pay which would have been spent at local businesses and in support of community activities. There is also the reputational damage such issues cause public health organisations like South West Healthcare. Professing to care for the community is entirely undermined when the reality appears to be different; and since their staff also live in the communities covered by South West Healthcare, the reputational damage has a multiplier effect as their staffs’ family and friends also live in those communities.
While business likes to talk about the need for greater productivity, they seem to go very quiet when it comes to the issue of underpaying staff and the real impact this has on the local community and economy.
There’s also little acknowledgement of how having claims of underpayments ignored affects the morale of staff, which is already suffering due to excessive workloads.
The Union won’t be backing down on what is a clear case of underpaying staff and an obvious failure to comply with our Public Health Sector Agreement to ensure that payments are correct. And now for South West Healthcare to not address the issue despite being made aware of it is highway robbery.
But without the members at South West Healthcare reporting their suspicions of being underpaid, the Union would have known about the issue or had the opportunity to investigate underpayments and failures to comply with our Agreement.
It’s a great example of why it is so important that members report their concerns about workplace matters.
If you’re experiencing issues in your workplace, contact the Union on (03) 9623 9623 or through the Member Portal