The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has sought to end a long-running dispute between Health Workers Union (HWU) members and Dorevitch Pathology, by issuing a draft determination in which workers’ wages are set to rise by up to 20% and allowances by up to 30%.
The September 13 determination also states that workers will receive back pay dating back to July 2017 and another 2.5% wage rise in 12 months’ time.
The victory comes after nearly two years of struggle, which has included the lock-out of 89 HWU members and strike action by more than 600 other members.
It also involved the Daniel Andrews state Labor government demanding an end to the industrial action and a sluggish FWC taking a marathon nine months to determine the matter.
The FWC’s final determination will be issued later in September.
The union is describing the result as a “historic” win.
HWU state secretary Diana Asmar said: “Make no mistake, you [Dorevitch employees] won this.
“We congratulate and thank all 605 of you for your sacrifice, courage and determination. After 11 years, time was up for Dorevitch Pathology. This is a big win. Finally, you get a fair bloody go!”
HWU member and Geelong Unionist of the Year Adele Fisher, who was originally targeted by the company’s selective lock-out, said: “We are thrilled by this victory. We knew if we stuck together we would win and win we did.
“Thanks so much to the Geelong community who stuck by us. And to all the union members from the HWU, Geelong Unions and especially Geelong Trades Hall, we say thank you.”
Geelong Trades Hall secretary Colin Vernon told Green Left Weekly that he welcomed the ruling and congratulated the union and members.
However, he said he is critical of the process workers had to endure: “It beggars belief that, after not seeing one cent in a wage rise over 10 years, these workers had to battle their employer for more than 2 years, suffer unfair selective lock-outs and then endure a marathon deliberation by Fair Work Australia to finally receive what they were rightfully owed,” Vernon said
“This case highlights two things: first, when workers stick together they can win. And secondly, our work laws are broken and need to be thrown out and rewritten.”