The campaign by the Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) in support of workers at the Sydney Hilton has ended in a victory for the union, with union members at the hotel voting to accept an agreement which meets all of the unions’ demands.
The five hundred employees at the Sydney Hilton will be laid off In November when the hotel closes for an 18-month renovation. The hotel was offering no rehiring guarantees, no training for the dismissed workers, and only minimal redundancy pay: a maximum of 8 weeks pay for permanent employees, some of whom have worked for years at the hotel, and no severance pay at all for the large number of casual employees.
The union organized a broad campaign, gaining support from other unions and community groups and international support from the IUF and its affiliates. Under the terms of the settlement, management has agreed to increase the retrenchment pay from 8 weeks to a minimum of 12, with casual workers to receive payment from one to 5 weeks. The hotel has agreed to give all employees priority (a four week head start) in job applications when the hotel reopens; has set up a union-approved job placement service; and has agreed to enter into negotiations with the LHMU for a first enterprise agreement.
According to Mark Boyd, LHMU Assistant Secretary for New South Wales, “These are all important union victories in an industry where workers, and their needs and interests, are normally ignored. The thousands of immigrant workers who toil in this city’s hotels will note this victory.” Boyd also noted that the settlement would set a benchmark for other hotels planning renovations.