ASU Yarra casual worker delegates Toby and Rafaella alongside delegate Barb Higgins have been representing casual workers across Yarra in discussions with management over many weeks.

Thanks to their work many additional redeployment roles for casuals who have been without work since the lockdown have been found.

Today we learnt that Yarra management has agreed to the ASU’s claim that all casual workers have access to paid COVID-19 testing leave.

One shift paid leave has been approved when casuals are rostered to work and there is a need to get COVID-19 testing, evidence that a COVID-19 test has been undertaken will be required before payment of shift. This is a positive outcome for all workers improving health and safety at work and in the community.

When union members work together, we all win.

A bit about your Delegates

Toby as a Library Officer and Rafaella as a Venues and Events Officer are new delegates with between 6 and 3 months respectively! When COVID-19 hit, Yarra City Council immediately stood down their entire cohort of 442 casuals. ASU members stood up and through the stellar advocacy of these and other delegates, 91 casuals have now been redeployed.

Toby says that before COVID-19 hit, being a casual was already hard. “I love my job and the work, but the stress of insecure work takes its toll”

Rafaella says “I’ve always held casual jobs, and it’s taken me years to realise the frustrations I felt as a casual are structural… I used to think we had a choice because we can say no to a shift, but the reality is we never do because you have this underlying anxiety that the shifts could just stop one day.”

Toby and others have repeatedly raised awareness about the mental health and wellbeing of casuals, since the outset of the pandemic.

Rafaella says I think the most challenging aspect has been that fellow workers hold a misconception that casuals choose insecure work but everyone should have a right to secure, ongoing employment. When the shifts stopped because of COVID-19, pre-existing inequalities across the economy were more exposed. I became a delegate to address these issues.”

Toby says organising casuals is an incremental process bringing people together, “My first step in organizing has had to be setting up social places for casuals to meet and gather and realize they have had shared interests” which has predominantly been online for the moment.

The most rewarding aspect of being a delegate Rafaella feels “has been the solidarity that the union provides. I get to experience a sense of contributing to change, even if incrementally.”

Many councils have in their Enterprise Agreement a casual conversion clause which allows for some eligible casuals to request permanency – Yarra City Council does not. Despite this, job security has been high on the agenda for Toby and Rafaella. Insecure work undermines all workers conditions and employment security.

If you worked with casuals, do them a favour and forward this newsletter to keep them in the loop.

Know someone that is not yet a member of the ASU? It’s easy to join online at https://www.asu.asn.au/asujoin

Don’t forget the ASU recruitment competition is underway until September, $500 is up for grabs for the member who recruits the most new people.

For further information please contact:
ASU delegate Barbara Higgins | 0437 660 799
ASU Lead Organiser Jane Karslake | 0418 106 739

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