FREMANTLE council has been left with a $564,949 bill after it emerged it had underpaid 143 casual and shift workers over several years.
The discovery came to light during the city’s current pay negotiations with the Australian Services Union and is another blow to its campaign of reining in wages; recently it had to soften plans to wind back penalties for casual staff.
The 143 workers were mostly employed at the Fremantle Leisure Centre, Fremantle Arts Centre, Library and Visitors Centre, as well as parking and community safety officers.
Council acting CEO Paul Garbett said the city had inadvertently mis-interpreted some clauses related to shift penalties and additional leave entitlements.
Mr Garbett offered his apologies to all affected staff.
“We pride ourselves on ensuring our staff are well looked after and we have always worked with unions and our staff to provide the best working conditions possible,” Mr Garbett said.
“As soon as we became aware of this issue, the city’s focus has been on making sure we resolve it as quickly and thoroughly as possible.”
He said all affected staff had been back-paid or were in the process of getting accrued leave.
Mr Garbett said the error hadn’t been picked up in previous negotiations with the union.
“To ensure this situation does not occur again the city now has an agreed interpretation of the EBA which has been approved by our industrial relations consultant.”
Mr Garbett said 27 employees had been over-paid but wouldn’t have to give the money back.
by STEVE GRANT