In what begins to define a new low for Metro, the RTBU has been forced to lodge a dispute over the company’s refusal to accommodate and maintain the salary of a pregnant employee.
Where it should be each individual’s right to determine their capacity to work in consultation with their own Doctor, Metro have sought to prematurely transfer an employee from her usual duties, reducing her take-home pay. The RTBU is aware this may have happened to others in the past who may not have sought representation over the issue.
The Metro Rail Operations Enterprise Agreement clearly states that when a medical practitioner has deemed a pregnant employee’s usual duties unsafe, they will be transferred to a safe job, on the same terms and conditions (full rate of pay). If no safe job is available, the base rate of pay applies.
Clause 2.8.7 states:
- Where an Employee is pregnant and, in the opinion of a registered medical practitioner, illness or risks arising out of the pregnancy or risks with the work make it inadvisable for the Employee to continue work, the Employee will, if the company deems it practicable, be transferred to a safe job at the rate and on the conditions attached at the Employee’s full rate of pay prior to the transfer until the commencement of Parental Leave.
- If the transfer to a safe job is not practicable, the Employee may ask, or the Company will pay an eligible Employee ‘no safe job’ pay. If the Employee is not eligible, they may be required to commence Parental Leave for such period as is certified necessary by a registered medical practitioner. In such cases the fourteen (14) week period of Parental Leave will then be due to commence.
The RTBU believes that even the minimum national employment standards (NES) would offer eligible employees’ better coverage than Metro are willing to concede, so off we go to the Fair Work Commission!
This week the RTBU Women’s Committee, which has been successful in advocating for better inclusion of women in the rail and public transport industry including amenities and advocacy on the job, passed the following resolution:
Having heard the shocking story surrounding Metro’s failure to abide by their enterprise agreement terms in respect to the entitlements of a pregnant RTBU member to her pay and conditions, this meeting of the RTBU Women’s Committee instructs the RTBU to run a loud campaign to ensure full entitlements are recognised and paid for all employees in need of transferring to a safe job during pregnancy.
Women’s rights at work are essential and this unfair treatment by Metro not only discriminates unfairly on one of our Sisters, it also threatens all others seeking to access the same provisions to support their families and goes against the essence of the National Employment Standards. It affects not only current, but also future employees and the entitlements of wives, sisters and daughters, as well as any members who have already experienced similar treatment.
This meeting acknowledges changes negotiated in the 2019 Metro enterprise agreement to ensure these entitlements were observed by Metro and condemns Metro for their failure to properly support women across the industry.
The RTBU Women’s committee encourages women across the network to speak up and share their stories to ensure we leave no stone unturned. We instruct the RTBU to communicate this with members and ensure justice is served for all members affected by Metro’s attacks on wage entitlements and working conditions.
Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise to see Metro attacking vulnerable staff in a bid to consolidate their budgetary bottom line and protect international shareholders over Victorian workers.
While the RTBU will run this case all the way to hold Metro accountable across the board, this fight should also serve as a reminder to others to come forward and seek advice or representation wherever there is a change to your standard work arrangements. Should we be successful we will be looking to run backpay claims for any other members who Metro have sought to swindle!
The RTBU will keep members informed of developments on this campaign. We encourage all members who have experienced a similar situation to get in contact with the RTBU via firstname.lastname@example.org.