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17/09/2009

Letter to the editor: Wine Industry Award 2010 to reduce casual working hours

On behalf of struggling small wineries, I would like to comment on the SAWIA response to the Daily Wine News article dated 9 September concerning the new Wine Industry Award 2010.

The big kicker in the new Award is the requirement to pay double time to casuals on Sunday, generally the busiest day for small winery cellar doors.

As I understand it, loadings are designed to compensate employees for having to work unsociable hours.

This is a philosophical point which I accept.

If permanent or part time employees are required to work more than five days in a week, or weekends are included in their normal working week, I accept that the weekend work is “unsociable”.

However, particularly in the case of small and micro wineries, weekends generate most, if not all, of cellar door income.

It is unlikely that casuals will be employed during the week.

Therefore, a small winery cellar door cannot, like other businesses generating income over five or seven days, average out the hourly wages bill over sociable and unsociable hours to arrive at a sustainable average.

Additionally, in my case, we generally employ casuals who are students or otherwise busy or employed during the week.

Far from being unsociable hours, they can only work weekends and do not expect “compensation” for so doing.

I raised this issue with one of the major organisations appearing before the Commission, but I was told not to bother making a submission as the process was all about standardising employment conditions across awards as part of its modernisation process.

The failure to “drill down’ to see the unintended consequences of standardising casual loadings on Sundays across disparate businesses will most certainly have severe adverse consequences to an already battling small business sector.

Far from compensating employees for working unsociable hours, it will inevitably lead to reduced cellar door hours and, therefore, less hours of work available.

I do not think the 200% loading for casuals on Sundays in the case described above is fair.

There ought to be some provision for individual arrangements to be allowed in such cases where the need for compensation is not a relevant consideration.

Stephen Wilkins

CEO

Heathcote Winery

AWRI

Climate Wizard

Roberts Real Estate

Bayer Teldor

GroGuard

Canberra Riesling Challenge

Whitlands

CE Bartlett

WID 2016