ON August 3, I was delighted to hear that Fair Work Australia handed down a decision in favour of our members at freight company Wettenhalls following arbitration.
This significant win means that our members will now be entitled to thousands of dollars owing to them in back pay.
A dispute erupted in around November last year between Wettenhalls and the TWU over the interpretation of an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA).
The TWU filed a dispute on January 30, arguing that the EBA entitled members to casual loading and shift penalties on the weekend. Wettenhalls used the somewhat ambiguous language in the agreement to argue otherwise. Its interpretation resulted in the employees losing their hard-fought entitlements.
In simple terms, this meant that TWU members, who delivered bread, were not going to be paid weekend shift penalties and the 25% casual loading they were entitled to.
Our members became aware of this anomaly during the first pay period and subsequently lodged a complaint with the TWU on January 23.
When the case eventually went to arbitration in late April, the TWU argued that its members should receive casual loading and shift penalties on weekends as they had always previously done.
The union based its arguments on the interpretation of the law and argued that Fair Work Australia should look at the extrinsic evidence and the mutual intentions of both parties when reaching the agreement, which we believed was that shift penalties would continue to apply on weekends.
The TWU also urged Fair Work Australia to look at the bigger picture and focus on the spirit of the law and its wider intentions rather than narrowly restricting its application to the black and white wording of the agreement.
Our delegates and members at Wettenhalls have naturally been ecstatic over this good news.
As delegate Nick Lukic said, "It has been a very long haul for all concerned, yet throughout the entire process, all the members on the ground displayed a work ethic that was over and above what was called for. They never spoke about making trouble or making waves or pulling the pin."
This victory has been an important one - not only for the union but more significantly, for our members. This victory once again illustrates that the TWU will always take up the fight both on the ground and legally on behalf of our members.