Council workers left with 'no choice' take industrial action
LIVINGSTONE Shire council workers are meeting with union reps this afternoon to plan industrial action on Friday.
This week's combined union action could be just the first in a series of actions over the coming weeks.
Australian Services Union organiser, Chris McJannett said union members across council will discuss a range of industrial actions this afternoon, including potential strikes, in an effort to convince the council to come back to the bargaining table to reach a fair outcome.
He said the council had left the workers with no choice after refusing any further negotiations.
"We want the council to come back to the table so workers can afford to keep working there," Mr McJannett said.
"They've been doing the best they can and working hard under very difficult circumstances for years now.
"Their requests to catch up and keep up with increases in the cost of living have fallen on deaf ears."
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has written to Livingstone mayor Bill Ludwig saying the industrial action is not intended to threaten or cause significant damage to the economy or the local community, or to endanger the health, safety or welfare of the community.
AMWU organiser, Glenn Sam said the union says was committed to ongoing negotiations to finalise an agreement but was met with "hostility" from council officers.
"Workers have not had a pay rise in four years that's kept up with the cost of living," Mr Sam said.
"They are looking for a pay rise to help them catch up and keep up in the term of this agreement.
"Council officers have been hostile.
"They have suggested more than once at the bargaining table that to deliver any pay rise will result in job losses and reduction of services.
"They are blackmailing the workers into trying to goad them into what they want."
"Out of all the agreements I've put together, I've never struck anything like this level of hostility."
Mr McJannett said, to their credit, the council had given workers a $20 a week pay rise, but were using it to say 'we've done this, don't ask for anything else'.
"That's less than the CPI increase this year alone," he said.
"The council is the heart of this community; they pull things together when we have natural disasters, they are the stable employer and everything they do has a huge flow on impact on the community.
"But every time they talk about pay rises, they talk about job cuts.
"The guys and girls are not asking for anything unreasonable. They haven't had a significant pay rise for many years."
The protected combined union action could see different departments decide on different responses this afternoon.
Possible industrial action on Friday could include refusal to undertake certain duties, work stoppages and periodic bans on paperwork or using electronic devices.
Mr McJannett, a candidate in the 2016 LSC election, said it had been a "very long time" since council workers had taken this kind of action.
"Pre-amalgamation, LSC was one of the best employers when it came to councils," he said.
"That's one of the reasons there was such strong support from those who had an association with the council then.
"This is not what they fought to get back.
"The councillors are not directly involved. We are hoping they will step up but at this stage they haven't.
"We have asked them and at this point they have decided to leave it to the CEO to apply to the QIRC.
"This council provides some amazing services that not all councils do, and the pride in these services is off the back of their workforce, which based on our calculations are around 3 per cent behind based on CPI rises across the term of this agreement."
Livingstone Shire Council has been contacted for a response.