Australia Post and its CEO Ahmed Fahour are facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia over their decision to single out Victorian union members and cut their entitlement to payroll deductions for union membership fees.
In a statement of claim filed by Maurice Blackburn in the Federal Court in Melbourne on behalf of the CEPU*, it is claimed that Australia Post and its CEO have breached the adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act.
Enrico Burgio, associate in employment and industrial law who is acting for the CEPU said the actions of Australia Post amounted to retribution against Victorian CEPU members for their stance taken during the recent enterprise bargaining at Australia Post.
"Australia Post and Fahour have punished Victorian CEPU members by scrapping the payroll deductions of their union fees. We allege that this action was taken because, through their union, they advocated against the proposed enterprise agreement.
"This is deliberate and calculated discrimination against workers based on exercising a workplace right. Workers should not be punished for the position they take in an EBA vote.
"Although Australia Post had a policy of allowing payroll deductions for matters including union fees, following the bargaining, Australia Post have told workers that Victorian CEPU members only will no longer be able to use this facility for their union fees," said Mr Burgio.
Assistant National Secretary of the CEPU Communication Workers Union, Martin O'Nea, said "Victorian CEPU members have had this entitlement for many years, including periods when there was no obligation in a certified agreement in place to provide the entitlement.
The CEO, Ahmed Fahour, has made a side deal with some union branches to keep union entitlements and has sought to freeze out Victorian CEPU members.
The union strongly believes that workers should not be disadvantaged for the stand they took during bargaining. We are taking this important action to protect the rights of our members at Australia Post."
The statement of claim alleges that Mr Fahour entered into Memorandums of Understanding with other branches of the CEPU in NSW, QLD, SA and Tasmania which would oblige those branches to urge members to vote in support of the EBA in exchange for retaining the payroll deductions and other employee benefits. Victoria was not offered the opportunity to enter into an MoU and the CEPU Victorian Branch strongly advocated against the EBA, because of matters including Australia Post's pay offer to its workforce.
The CEPU is seeking orders from the Federal Court restoring the payroll deductions and penalties against both Australia Post and Mr Fahour for contraventions of the Fair Work Act.
*Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia, Communications Division (known as the Communication Workers Union).