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Council on strike

Thursday, 26th June, 2014

Council employees met at the Trades Hall yesterday afternoon and 101 of the 103 union members voted to go on strike. Council employees met at the Trades Hall yesterday afternoon and 101 of the 103 union members voted to go on strike.

By Erica Visser

Around 150 City Council employees are on strike today in protest against jobs being lost in Council’s restructure. 

United Services Union organiser Paul Wesley met with 103 Council workers yesterday afternoon when all but two members voted to go on strike from 11.59pm last night.

At 9.30am today the employees will attend a meeting with the Industrial Relations Commission at the Trades Hall.

The union is urging Council to consider its alternative restructure proposal which, it claims, could save Council more money without any job being lost. 

Mr Wesley said he could not say how long the strike would continue. 

“I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t want to speculate,” he said.

“All I know is we’ve got 150 members that need to be treated with sympathy, dignity and respect.”

Last night about 60 people attended Council’s monthly meeting, many of whom were employees. 

“I’m hoping that the show of solidarity of the members at the Council meeting puts Council on notice,” Mr Wesley said.

“They need to commit to employees that the conditions of the award will stay in place.”

Council’s General Manager Therese Manns last night said that “productive consultation” had been done with staff in the past weeks. 

“We’ve been going through a period of uncertainty for six months and I’ve got a lot of staff saying to me they don’t want to delay this any further,” Ms Manns told the meeting.

But Mr Wesley said he didn’t think Ms Manns had insight into how the staff were feeling.

“Just how productive was it when we’ve got 150 members on strike?”, he said.

Labor councillor Darriea Turley successfully moved a last-minute motion at the Council meeting to ensure that management would respect the award conditions in the restructure.

“The Labor councillors moved a motion to ensure that Broken Hill City Council stays within the award agreement and that all staff receive their entitlements and are not at risk,” Clr Turley told the BDT.

“There have been innuendoes that that was not the case.”

The union has called on councillors to support its restructure plan, but the councillors said their hands were tied as it was an “operational matter”.

Mr Wesley said that was not the case. 

Ms Manns said she had received a copy of the union’s restructure proposal, which relies on targeted voluntary redundancies and natural attrition, only yesterday afternoon. 

“What I’ve got is a three-page document. There needs to be more,” Ms Manns said,

“Natural attrition is not the answer for Broken Hill City Council.

But Ms Manns said that she was open to discussing the plan with the union and would meet with Sydney-based representatives on Tuesday next week.

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