WORKERS PROTEST: Outdoor workers of Rockhampton Regional Council, their family members, and supporters from the Rockhampton community.
WORKERS PROTEST: Outdoor workers of Rockhampton Regional Council, their family members, and supporters from the Rockhampton community. Contributed

Pressure ramps up on Rocky Council in wage negotiations

A LARGE protest rally was staged at Kershaw Gardens in response to stalled wage negotiations between the Rockhampton Regional Council and council workers.

An estimated 200 aggrieved workers came together on Thursday afternoon to express and reiterate to the council that the current wages offer on the table "just doesn't cut it".

Australian Workers Union organiser Craig Sell says workplace agreements between employers and workers are like a jigsaw puzzle and this puzzle is just waiting for a couple more pieces to create the whole picture.

While RRC has applied some administrative increases over the four years since the current certified agreement expired, he says the increases do not keep pace with the rising costs of living.

"The most recent release of data indicates that CPI rose by 1.8 per cent in the last year, that leaves the gap even wider at this point in time," Mr Sell said.

It is understood workers are seeking an increase of 2.75 per cent.

He said they didn't want to put Council in an entirely bad light given that they had been able to develop some good outcomes.

These include improved job security, improved opportunities such as more flexibility in how workers can use their accrued time to improve worker's work/life balance, improved consultation processes between workers and Council and the inclusion of domestic and family violence leave.

"Council can be commended on these aspects," Mr Sell said, adding he was hopeful workers and union representatives continued to negotiate with Council to achieve a reasonable outcome in the near future.

Council CEO Evan Pardon thanked the unions for acknowledging that council had been working with them successfully on many issues to improve the working conditions for their employees.

"Council will continue to meet with our staff and associated unions to reach agreement on those matters that remain outstanding," Mr Pardon said.

He said about half of the council budget was wages and increases here would flow directly to ratepayers.

"Our forward budget has already been stretched to provide our offer of 10.2% over four years. Council has offered to back pay the initial increase to July 1, 2018," he said.

"One request that Council cannot agree to is five weeks annual leave as this equates to an additional $1.8 million to our annual wages bill.

"This will have a major impact on the delivery of services and projects for the community."

CFMEU district vice president Chris Brodsky accused RRC of neglecting worker wages in favour of building an airport for Adani's Carmichael coal mine.

"Rocky Council can put $12-15 million aside for an airstrip for a mine that has not even turned a shovel of dirt, yet the hard working men and women of the Rockhampton Council are asking for a fair and needed pay rise to just keep up with the standards of living," Mr Brodsky said.

Mr Pardon responded saying the Adani airport money would return to the budget with airport fees and new jobs.

"As the airport money is not immediately required we have included the interest from that money as part of our budgeted income," he said.

"It would be very unwise to use that money to give above average wage increases.

"Rockhampton Regional Council strongly supports a day labour workforce and will continue to do so through good wages, conditions and job security."



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