Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

No higher duties payments to airport ground crew

The Industrial Magistrate dismissed a claim by airport ground crew, classified at Level 2, to be paid at the Level 3 rate.  The ground crew said they should be paid the higher rate because they work unsupervised, undertake basic equipment maintenance and compile cargo documents. 

His Honour found that the claim was for reclassification because the employees believed they should have received the Level 3 rate for all of their employment, even though the duties of their position had not changed during the last two enterprise agreements.  The employees were ‘prevented from advancing a reclassification dispute’ because the enterprise agreement is ‘comprehensive’ and bars any further claims.  His Honour also noted that an Industrial Magistrate cannot deal with reclassification claims.

The court went on to decide whether the employees had a valid claim for a higher duties allowance under the enterprise agreement.  The claim relied on the employees performing isolated parts of a Level 3 classification.  His Honour found that the employees ‘did no more than carry out the primary functions of [Level 2] employees.’  The employees’ claim failed because they did not perform the essential ingredients of the higher classification.  The classification descriptors in enterprise agreements ‘cannot be isolated or divorced from each other’ because that ‘undermines the description of the classification’.  

The decision can be read here.

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