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SA Health loss in Industrial Court

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The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) has won again in their on-going struggle to have their members paid according to their classification, while working for SA Health. Even though SA Health have continued to lose in the Industrial Court, they continue to underpay the CEPU members due to incorrect classifications, according to the Union spokesperson;  and it could also apply to workers in the South East.

CEPU organiser Simon Pisoni said, ” it is disgraceful” when describing how SA Health treat tradespeople.

“Our battle with SA Health began 10 years ago when one of our organisers noticed that some of our members were being classified below their skill level and began asking SA Health why tradespeople were being paid the equivalent to a handyman, an amount of approximately $6000.00 less per year than they would be under the award rate according to their skill level.”

“SA Health said they didn’t have the budget to pay the higher rate,” he said.

“Our test case in 2009 (two workers in metropolitan hospitals)  was won easily with the Industrial Magistrate Steven Lieschke saying  he was satisfied that both workers has been classified as handyperson’s and should have been recognised as working in trades assistance roles – just below a  tradesperson level.”

Mr Pisoni said, “We (CEPU) officials asked SA Health to apply the decision to similar workers in country hospitals but they didn’t so we began the process again, touring country hospitals and finding that in the country the problem was even more obvious.”

“The CEPU toured the Riverland and one by one we had 15 workers reclassified. Next we toured the Mid North and the same applied to 7 workers.  Our tour of  Eyre Peninsula resulted in one worker being paid $76,000 in underpayment of wages.”

As a result of the work of CEPU Organiser Paul Scudds, a further 4 workers are to share a total of $165,000 plus interest,  for underpayment of wages, while working for SA Health at the Pt Lincoln, Cleve and Cowel Hospitals. The payments cover periods of 3 to 6 years of underpayment and was decided in the Industrial Court in April 2014.

Mr Pisoni said  the CEPU asked SA Health to be more reasonable in view of their ongoing losses in the Industrial Court.

“We were hoping for a flow on effect, but to date the CEPU must continue to fight each case individually which is time consuming and costly.”

“It is very frustrating but we will continue to fight ,” he said.

“We just went back to basics in representing our people and it has been very gratifying to get them paid correctly but we have certainly found the government to be very frustrating.”

“We are only a small union, and it has taken some real work to do this but the outcome for our people, has been worth it.”

The class of workers involved are mainly maintenance and handy person workers.

Information provided to us showed that in the case of a worker being reclassified by the Industrial Courts while working for SA Health did not mean that when that worker was replaced SA Health, they would automatically pay the worker correctly. CEPU must take the matter to court to get the new worker reclassified each time.

CEPU Organiser Paul Scudds said,”if you applied the decision handed down by Magistrate Leischke,  to Facility maintenance officers based in the South East, the CEPU is of the opinion that they are incorrectly classified under the Ancillary Award.”

Spokesperson for SA Health  said:  ‘While this matter is still before the Industrial Magistrates Court, it is not appropriate for SA Health to comment any further.’