||Issue No. 123||21 December 2001|
The Unmaking of History
International: Global Year in Review
Unions: A Year at the Barricades
Technology: Unions Online 2001
Republic: Terror Australis
Economics: 2001: Annus Horribilis
Campaign Diary: Melanie and Me
Politics: Tony Moore's Final Word
Review: You Are the Weakest Program
Legal: The New McCarthyism
The Locker Room
The First Bastion
Tom Collins' Christmas Wish
City Council's Tactics Rival Worst in the World
"Hey hey, ho ho, Frank Sartor has to go!" The chant rang out loud and clear when over 800 council workers rallied at Sydney Town Hall last week calling for an end to Competitive Tendering at Sydney City Council.
Municipal Employees Union members from South Sydney and Leichhardt Councils joined Sydney Council members in a show of solidarity to fight the job destroying regime. If boundary changes take place then many workers from Leichhardt and South Sydney will come under the Agreement currently being pushed by Sydney Council management. The rally was supported by other unions including the PSA, CFMEU, AMWU and the NSW Labor Council.
MEU General Secretary Brian Harris addressed the rally, quoting from a letter addressed to the State Government from the Secretary of the Public Services International Union.
"These tactics are nothing short of disgraceful and set a poor example for not only the City of Sydney, but the State of NSW and Australia.
The PSI is used to seeing these intimidatory tactics in undemocratically elected Governments in South America, some parts of Asia and approaches by conservative and anti union governments."
"The Sydney City Council is adopting the worst industrial tactics in the world," said Brian Harris.
Brian Harris had just come from a meeting with NSW Premier Bob Carr. The MEU has called on the Government to give additional guarantees on jobs following any boundary changes and to act immediately on the anti-union approach of the Sydney Council.
Brian Harris reiterated his commitment to oppose competitive tendering and asked members to disregard the lies coming from Council who have reverted to bully boy tactics by physically and verbally assaulting an MEU official.
Of major concern is the Council's attempt to divide and conquer union members. The Council has tried to intimidate MEU members into voting in a secret ballot for the Council Agreement. MEU Official Ben Kruse told the rally about the threat to job security and cited the experience at Mosman Council. "Workers put in a bid for their own jobs and won a 7 year contract and six months later they were sacked without redundancy because Council said they were not working to the contract. CT is simply a process of losing jobs."
MEU Organiser Mark Wheatley told of his experience at Sydney City Council when CT was first introduced in 1996. "There are no winners in this process because to 'win' the contract to keep your own job you have to downsize," he told the rally. Warning workers not to be duped he emphasised to those present that if the new agreement goes through "one third of you will be out of jobs."
The loudest cheers were for the 2 delegates Scott McNamara and Hal Assoni who addressed the rally. They urged their fellow members to help stamp out CT and anti-union behaviour.
Good news came just as the rally was drawing to a close. The Upper House had just announced it would hold an inquiry into the financial and social impacts of any boundary changes in the inner city. The MEU had been calling for a social impact study and sees this as a big win for residents, ratepayers and workers.
However the MEU fears it may come too late for the workers at the City Council who are still being intimidated into accepting an agreement that extends CT and blocks the MEU from future negotiations on behalf of its members. "Together we can do anything," Hal Assoni reminded the rally.
As Scott McNamara a street-sweeper from Sydney Council urged "End the farce - give CT the arse!"
Postscript: In great news which came just days after the rally, workers at Sydney City Council rejected the Council's proposed agreement which would have extended Competitive Tendering and excluded the MEU from future negotiations.
Following a recent secret ballot called by Sydney City Council, workers at the Council have rejected the proposal with the vote well short of the required 65%.
The MEU has now called on Council to pay the first 5% wage increase on an unconditional basis to its workforce BEFORE Christmas.
All members and delegates are to be congratulated on their efforts in very difficult circumstances. Together we can ensure that all future agreements and negotiations are conducted in a fair and open manner.
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