Crisis Averted as Crown Casino Workers Call Off Melbourne Cup Strike at Final Hour

  • The workers accepted a new offer just one hour before the start of the strike
  • The strike potentially would have lasted throughout Melbourne Cup week
  • Casinos in the US have also been dealing with threats of strikes over contracts
Man with megaphone
Crown Melbourne workers called off a planned strike during one of the busiest weeks of the year after accepting a better contract offer. [Image:]

A better deal

The planned strike action by Crown Melbourne workers in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup has been called off. They received and accepted a new offer from their employers just one hour before their planned protest, which would have come at one of the busiest times in the Australian gaming calendar.

looking for better pay and improved working conditions

As many as 3,600 employees at the Crown Resorts-owned property were looking for better pay and improved working conditions, citing the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The United Workers Union – the trade union representing these workers – approved separate agreements for managers and the front-of-house staff. Its Director of Casinos Dario Mujkic remarked that the better offer only came as a result of all of the workers coming together to push for better terms.

The new deal includes a pay rise of 6% for the majority of hospitality workers and about 5.6% for table game dealers. Other improvements as part of the two-year deal include more worker-friendly roster structures, long-serving employees getting time-based salary progression, and better provisions for redundancy.

Crisis averted

The strike was set to start on Saturday night and potentially continue over the following two days. This would have clashed with major horseracing events, including Victoria Derby Day on the first day, while also disrupting preparations for the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.

The Melbourne Cup is part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and is the biggest annual race in Australia. It’s also one of the richest turf races in the world, carrying a prize purse of AU$8.4m (US$5.5m).

Melbourne Cup week often proves one of the busiest times of the year for hotels and casinos in the region as thousands of people flock to the area. The Crown Melbourne is also a hospitality services partner for the race meeting.

Negotiations with employees had been ongoing for about four months before the new agreement. Crown Melbourne CEO Michael Volkert noted that the talks ultimately led to a “great outcome for team members.” He hopes that the improvements will help the property continue to grow.

A common theme

Casino workers threatening strike action is a hot topic at the moment. Similar threats have been seen in other areas, including Las Vegas, Detroit, and Canada. The most significant of these is undoubtedly in Sin City, where 35,000 workers are threatening strike action ahead of the highly anticipated Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The race is going to be a very busy time for the city, with workers at MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment properties planning a strike on November 10 if their demands are not met. They have been pushing for improved contracts since April, seeking better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

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