THE Salvation Army is being accused of underclassifying its employees in a bid to cut costs as it moves to a new pay scale.
The Australian Services Union levelled the allegation at the Salvos late last week when it was revealed that hundreds of community service workers would not get an expected pay rise at the start of the month.
The workers were informed, via letter, that the organisation was still working to move to the new pay scale.
Employees were told they would have to wait until December 1 due to "the complexity of the task and the lack of common position descriptions".
But one worker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was scathing of the Salvos' claim.
"Of course there are position descriptions. How else do people apply for positions?"
He said he felt "cheated" by the Salvos.
"The workers here and at other Salvation Army services focus hard on the work they do and I believe the quality is extremely high. It's disappointing that's not reflected back through head office.
"They don't see supporting their workers as a major priority."
Community service workers are often exposed to victims of domestic violence and child abuse at centres in Oakleigh, Waverley, Noble Park, Rowville, Mooroolbark, Ringwood, Berwick, Cranbourne and Frankston.
The worker said staff cannot afford to go anywhere on leave because they have no savings.
"When you want or need to recharge your energy levels, you're not in a financial position to be able to do it," he said.
"I think it's about time for them to be a leader. By fixing up our pay, it will demonstrate that they're in a strong position in the sector."
Last Thursday, more than 200 workers protested outside the Salvation Army's headquarters in Blackburn.
The union said the Salvos had employed two security guards to ensure employees didn't enter the building.
ASU assistant secretary Lisa Darmanin condemned the Salvos.
"The new pay rates should have started by July 1. We are almost at the end of the month and workers are still not being paid correctly," she said.
"Someone who manages a service, has supervision of staff, and is responsible for budgets, is being classified at the rate you would pay a case worker who has no such supervisory or managerial responsibility.
"To have the Salvation Army use this process to try and reduce what their costs might be is really disappointing."
The alleged move by the Salvos follows a landmark equal pay decision handed down by Fair Work Australia last year which found community service workers in the not-for-profit sector were underpaid.
"We want to talk to the Salvation Army about the process they're undertaking, but they haven't wanted to speak to us," Ms Darmanin said.
The Salvation Army's Stephen Webb hit back at the union's criticisms.
"Any claims that The Salvation Army proposes to underpay employees are unfounded and without substance," Mr Webb said.
"We are committed to paying employees justly in accordance with their correct classification.
"No employee's rate of pay has decreased as a result of the provisional classification translation process."