WA support workers win one of the state's biggest claims for underpaid wages

Wednesday 21 Aug 2019

The Australian Services Union (ASU) and Community Living Association Inc (CLA) have reached an agreement to resolve proceedings commenced by the ASU alleging that CLA had contravened the Fair Work Act by underpaying 47 current and former employees.

The exact amount of the settlement is confidential, but the ASU can confirm that it exceeds six figures.  The ASU believes the settlement to be one of the biggest settlements of underpaid wages in WA’s history.

The ASU reached an out of court settlement with CLA after alleging that CLA had contravened the Fair Work Act by underpaying employees relative to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010.

In settling, CLA noted that the affected workers had benefited from being members of the ASU, which took the lead role in ensuring the underpayments were resolved. CLA has also apologised unconditionally to the affected workers.

ASU Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said the majority of these workers are low income earners who have spent years struggling financially.

“These payments are life changing for some our members. Many have struggled with basic day-today living expenses and live pay to pay,” Mr Wood said.

“This amount of money will actually make a significant difference in their lives. Some are able to pay off mortgages. In one particular case the bank was foreclosing on the member’s house, but because of this payment that hasn’t happened. In fact, I believe this is going a long way to paying the mortgage off.

“It should also be remembered that, even though the total settlement exceeds six figures, we were bound by the six-year statute of limitations, and so some long-term workers may have been underpaid more than what we could recover. That’s why it’s important for workers to challenge underpayments as soon as possible.

“These legal processes are tough and stressful on workers. At least by standing together and being part of their union, the ASU, these workers didn't feel alone.

“I believe there are many more West Australians being underpaid at work. When workers are members of their union, employers can't get away with it because we will hold them to account and we'll run disputes. The message is clear – join your union.

“We think there are a lot more of these cases in WA, but at the moment we're focused on two other organisations where members have highlighted that they may be underpaid. Employers should be on notice that the ASU will not tolerate underpayments.”


The open statement is available here.