The RTBU recently initiated a dispute with V/Line over workers’ ability to access their paid sick leave entitlement. We were informed by members that V/Line employees were being denied access to their accrued sick leave benefit should they call in sick. We know this was happening when part timers were working rostered shifts in excess of their minimum contracted hours, but it could be more widespread.
Any full time or part time worker who is rostered to work a shift should be able to access their sick leave entitlement if they can’t attend on the day due to illness or caring responsibilities. RTBU maintains that this is covered by the V/Line Agreement and the National Employment Standards contained in the Fair Work Act.
It appears that V/Line has been treating some workers like casuals and denying them access to paid sick leave. This is unacceptable. Many part timers work rosters with equivalent, or close to, full time hours and have the desire to work full time, if this opportunity wasn’t denied by V/Line.
Members are effectively losing pay versus an equivalent full time employee working the same roster – simply because they fell ill and couldn’t attend work.
In some regions V/Line is only advertising vacant roles as part time, knowing full well that they intend to exploit these new workers. It is an intentional move to undermine job security for the entire workforce while denying new starters access to full time rights and entitlements. The RTBU is also aware of rumours that V/Line Regional Managers have a KPI for employing new starters to part time roles. If true, this is a new low for V/Line.
Exploiting new starters and denying them access to a full time role is a disgrace and needs to stop.
What happens next?
V/Line have recently conceded the RTBU’s argument around access to personal leave when falling ill on any rostered shift.
While this dispute originated in the North East, we cannot be certain that it is not more widespread.
Check your pay slip. If you are a part time or full time employee and have had access to paid sick leave denied, please contact your local RTBU Delegate, your RTBU Divisional Secretary Darren Galea or your RTBU Organiser Sally van Bragt. You can also register with the RTBU office by emailing email@example.com.
RTBU will prepare a list of affected members and engage V/Line to ensure they are back paid for any occasion where they have been denied paid sick leave.
RTBU will continue to push for improved conditions in upcoming EA negotiations.