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‘Scab’ move riles Labor

Saturday, 28th June, 2014

By By Erica Visser

Labor Councillors have condemned a decision to call in “scab labour” to collect rubbish bins during the Council workers’ strike.

Around 150 staff went on strike at midnight Wednesday in protest at the uncertainties surrounding Council’s staff restructure plan.

A group of workers formed a picket line at the waste depot early yesterday morning in protest at general manager Therese Manns’ decision to outsource garbage collection to a local contractor during the strike.

But the contractor wasn’t brought in after Ms Manns promised to delay waste collection until after the workers voted on whether to continue the strike yesterday.

They voted to go back to work and at 11am and the garbage collectors started on the backlog of bins and dumpsters.

United Services Union industrial officer Greg Golledge called the decision to use contract labour an “outrageous move” after just one day of industrial action.

“That’s a very outlandish step to take,” he said.

Labor councillors also took a stand.

“Although the caucus stands committed to a restructure, the act of employing scab labour while our staff are on strike is unacceptable, and as Labor Councillors this is not a principle we can support,” Labor Clr Darriea Turley said.

“Scab labour undermines collective bargaining and the power of the union while members are on strike.

“We welcome that the general manager and union organisers will meet for further discussion on Tuesday.”

Earlier yesterday Clr Peter Black said Ms Manns’ decision was “the most reprehensible act” he had ever seen by a town clerk or general manager “in the history of Broken Hill”.

“I believe the general manager is beneath contempt.

“We have a policy in respect to daily-paid and I don’t believe that policy has been overturned.”

Clr Black said the situation would never had arisen had his Labor caucus motion in May - that required Ms Manns negotiate with the USU - not been defeated.

“I endeavoured to have the matter deferred but did not have the support of all my colleagues.”

But Mayor Wincen Cuy supported the use of a contractor, saying the absence of waste collection services was a health and safety issue.

“Traditionally when strike action happens, essential services, such as waste removal, are exempt,” Mayor Cuy said.

“So on this occasion I fully support the introduction of contract labour to deliver services to the community of Broken Hill because we are looking at an occupational health and safety issue.”

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