Old union term draws mayor’s ire
Friday, 27th February, 2015
By Erica Visser
The mayor has firmly told Peter Black to stop using the term “scab labour” as a business continuity plan was rejected by the Labor councillor for being “gobbledegook policy.”
The draft policy was written following concerns over a controversial decision to call in garbage contractors in June last year after Council workers went on strike over workforce restructure plans.
After a six month hiatus, it was presented to councillors on Wednesday night when it was moved the document be sent back to management for a redraft.
“Mr Mayor, this is a gobbledegook policy in the first order,” Labor Cr Black complained.
“I move that it be sent back to be redrafted. It certainly doesn’t resemble anything like a ‘no scabs’ policy.”
But Mayor Wincen Cuy cut off the remarks to firmly request Cr Black remove the term “scab” from his vocabulary.
“Cr Black I’m actually going to pick you up on this occasion. I’ve had feedback about your use of that word,” he said.
“Staff members at work (on the day of the strike) will tell you that was not what was going on.
“I wish you to refrain from using that in here because there are people and employees and staff that are emotionally upset when that gets reported.”
But Cr Black said staff must then lack an understanding of the definition of the age-old union term, which he had used in relation to contractors.
“A scab is a person that takes somebody else’s job when they’re on strike. If they’re not going out on strike, they’re a scab.
“...I’m happy to use it, Mr Mayor.”
The vague policy was to eventually be accompanied by a range of plans which would aim to address individual services including risk assessment for the disruption of each.
The plans would also cover the maximum timeframe for which a service can be suspended in cases of industrial action or other “business disruptive incidents” such as earthquakes and arson attacks.
But the promise of the accompanying detailed plans wasn’t enough for Labor councillors who tipped the vote for a redraft.
In relation to the move, Mayor Cuy said that staffing and resources was an operational matter, and not one for councillors.