Redland City Council staff to start industrial action

SOME council staff will start industrial action on Thursday and go on strike next week over a dispute over conditions relating to compliance officers.

Redland City Council staff who are members of The Services Union are involved in the dispute.

TSU lead organiser Ben Jones said council management had tried to slash wages and conditions for parts of the workforce during negotiations that started in the middle of the year.

“...During the process our members have been resolute and have been able to win most arguments,” Mr Jones said.

“However, a sticking point is council’s refusal to guarantee the current conditions of compliance officers in the environment and regulation unit, who could potentially lose thousands of dollars per annum under the council proposal.

“These officers deliver front-line services to keep the community safe but, basically, management wants the ability to throw them under the bus.”

Mr Jones said the action could include a ban on collecting rates, fines and late fees as well as stop-work action and wearing campaign badges.

He said council had applied to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission for a hearing to decide which employees were covered by the bargaining agreement.

“This is a further disruptive tactic by council management to delay the first pay increase, which is proposed to happen only when the enterprise bargaining action gets certified,” Mr Jones said.

“Council says they want the same thing that our members do, which is maintenance of current arrangements but rather than put wording into the new EBA to reflect that, they’ve embarked on a potentially lengthy and costly QIRC process.

“Rather than sitting down and discussing the wording of the EBA sensibly, council prefers to threaten our members with being locked out if they wear a badge.”

TSU secretary Neil Henderson said council had been notified that members might take action like refraining from answering emails or issuing fines.

Council has been told members would strike on Wednesday, December 12 from 8am to 10am.

Mr Henderson said the union had been told by council that if staff wore campaign badges or clothing, they would be refused entry to council buildings.

“Council would rather lock people out than let them wear a badge,” Mr Henderson said.

A council spokesperson said the union had threatened as part of its industrial action to wear campaign badges and clothing, and ban answering and responding to emails. 

The spokesperson said employees were free to wear campaign badges or clothing where they were not required to wear a council uniform for health and safety or community identification purposes.

”Council has advised that staff not answering or responding to emails or wearing a uniform when required to do so is unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.

“Members who choose to only perform part of their role should not attend the workplace.”

The spokesperson said council had offered a working arrangement that allowed for a four-day-on, four-day-off roster for some units but all proposals around that had been withdrawn by council.

”Council maintains two separate agreements for officers and outdoor workers,” the spokesperson said. 

“An agreement for outdoor workers is concurrently being negotiated.”