Council dispute ongoing
MAREEBA Shire Council workers have yet to come to an agreement with management a week after their second strike this year.
During the first round of strikes 32 employees were involved and during the second one last Thursday about 36 downed tools out of a staff of more than 250.
Mareeba Shire Council CEO Peter Franks said they have been in wage negotiations for about a year.
“Our previous Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) was due to expire in October last year so we started negotiations back in March,” he said.
“We have had a number of meetings. In October last year we got to a point where I put a final offer on the table and said let’s take this to the staff.
“The unions refused for it to go to the staff.
“Under current legislation the unions have to agree before it can go to staff to be voted on. Effectively we are at stalemate.”
Mr Franks said it is their legal right to go on strike and it did not cause any disruption to council business and the community.
He said the reality was that what council had offered is what it can afford.
“We offered a 2.25 per cent increase and we have actually implemented it because it isn’t fair that the staff get caught up in a negotiation between management and the union,” he said.
“We implemented it and backdated it to October 1... and it is in line with what we can afford.”
He said one of the key elements was that wage bills were paid for by rates.
“If we are going to pay staff more it is going to come from the community,” he said.
“We would have to charge more in rates and we believe the community can’t afford to pay more than the two-and-ahalf per cent which is our longterm financial plan.”
CFMEU Northern Territory and Far North Queensland official Rolly Cummins said the strike was aiming to get Mr Franks back at the negotiation table.
“Mareeba council’s agreement has expired and we are here to negotiate the new agreement but Mr Franks has given a first and final offer and is refusing to negotiate in good faith,” he said.
“We want secure jobs. The CEO is refusing to but a clause in the agreement that secures these workers jobs.
“We think it is extremely important that council worker’s positons should be full time positions and they should be long term.
“When a council worker leaves, there should be someone else from within the community who takes their job.
“The CEO has admitted that he likes to use contractors and labour hire and we don’t think that is right.
“The other thing is a decent and a fair wage increase. We believe that the offer of 2.5 per cent is not fair and reasonable.
“We are asking for 3 per cent which isn’t that much more.
“We aren’t asking Hollywood wages.” for
Mareeba Shire Council workers went on strike for the second time last week.