Apprentices and trainees across Queensland look set to receive tens of millions of dollars in back pay after the Federal Court ruled to dismiss a judicial review brought by group training organisation All Trades Queensland, the Master Builders Association and the Housing Industry Association.
According to the CFMEU, they along with other building unions took up the fight over apprentice wages with All Trades Queensland after it was discovered to be relying on defunct Queensland state awards to pay apprentices, rather than the federal award.
The Court dismissal of the review affirms a Fair Work Commission ruling dating from August that states apprentices in Queensland must be paid under the federal award.
As well as giving All Trades employees a pay rise, the courts dismissal clears the way for millions in back pay claims to be made on behalf of Queensland’s apprentices and trainees by their unions.
Queensland CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar said the union was glad to see that the court had dismissed a case that effectively sought permission to continue to underpay Queenslanders.
"This is a huge win for apprentices and trainees all over Queensland. This will mean pay rises of a couple of hundred dollars a week to some apprentices, along with opening the door for sizeable back pay claims, which is game changing for people earning less while they learn,” Ravbar said.
“There’s absolutely no reason that apprentices in Queensland should be paid less than those in New South Wales and Victoria, and the CFMEU are pleased to see the court agrees.”
Raybar went on to say it was important work putting in back-pay claims for the union’s members who have been affected by these underpayments.
“The employer associations have exhausted every avenue to enable bosses all over the state to avoid paying their apprentices and trainees the same as in the rest of the country, and they’ve failed,” Raybar said.
They’ve spent thousands on lawyers to argue that young trainees should be paid $8.75 an hour. It’s disgusting, and the court has rightly dismissed their last ditch attempt to avoid paying the legal rate.”
Image sourced from Flickr cc: Tom Newby