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Casino refuses to lift redundancy payout

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A union says the Christchurch Casino is refusing to increase a four-week redundancy payout for


The Service and Food Workers' Union met members yesterday to consider an ultimatum from Christchurch Casino, which has been closed since the February earthquake.

The casino's 538 workers have until Monday to decide whether to take redundancy or stay on unpaid leave until it reopens, hopefully in mid-May.

Union industry leader Len Richards said about 100 attended yesterday's meeting, which had a "sombre but staunch" atmosphere.

The union was asked to try to negotiate a better redundancy deal with the company, which was put to the company's management yesterday.

"They still rejected an increase in the redundancy payout," Richards said.

"Four weeks' pay is what they legally have to pay, because there's a notice period. If you've been working there for less than a year, four weeks' redundancy is pretty good, but for some people who have been there for 15 years, four weeks' payout is just a joke."

Richards said many casino workers had already signed up for the unemployment benefit.

The union is pushing for the company to jointly approach the Government to ask for financial help for its workers.

Casino staff had been fully paid since the February 22 earthquake, at a cost to the company of $410,000 a week. It was not clear if the company's insurance would cover workers' wages.

The casino's Brett Anderson did not return phone calls and emails yesterday.

Richards said its members also called on the Government to have a "proper" employment plan for Christchurch.

If the Government wanted to get re-elected, and avoid a social disaster involving "tens of thousands", it would have to come up with an assistance package, he said.

This week Prime Minister John Key dismissed figures from the Council of Trade Unions that as many as 20,000 Cantabrians will be forced on to the unemployment benefit by the earthquake.

The Government's challenge was to keep as many people employed as it practically could, Key said.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the Government was not projecting how many people could be left on a benefit due to businesses going bust or not being able to reopen.

- The Press


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