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March 3, 2021

Local health workers head to Industrial Relations Commission

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A dispute over backpay for health workers from Tweed Heads to Grafton has come to a head with the Health Service Union (HSU) saying that they are taking the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission over a laundry allowance that workers have not been receiving.

The claim relates to unpaid laundry allowances for the past six years with some staff standing to receive up to $1,400 in backpay.

‘The HSU met with NNSWLHD last week to try and come to an agreement on back payment of laundry allowances,’ said HSU NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes.

‘Unfortunately, we were unable to reach an agreement on the issue so the matter will now be referred to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission.

‘It’s common sense that you’re given a uniform for work, then you’re required to wear it and required to keep it clean.

‘The Northern NSW LHD maintains that because it did not have a workplace policy on laundry allowance, it did not need to pay it.

‘Workers however, are entitled to such an allowance under the Award.

‘Failing to pay workers according to their legal entitlements is wage theft, and we will seeking to make sure workers are paid every cent they are owed.’

Health department responds

However, the NNSWLHD maintains that they are still working towards a solution with HSU on the issue.

‘Northern NSW Local Health District has been in discussion for several months with the Health Services Union (HSU) regarding laundry allowances for staff,’ said Wayne Jones, chief executive of NNSWLHD.

‘NNSWLHD management will continue to work with HSU and its workforce to resolve this issue in the best interests of our staff and to provide clarity on uniform requirements of staffing categories moving forwards.’

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  1. Is there more to this? Otherwise I feel uncomfortable that our health is in the hands of the Northern NSW Local Health District. You can’t provide lesser benefits than those that are written into an Award.


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