Coun­cil dis­pute on­go­ing

Tablelands Advertiser - - NEWS - Bron­wyn Wheatcroft

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

Pic­ture: Sup­plied

Ma­reeba Shire Coun­cil work­ers went on strike for the sec­ond time last week.

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