The Services Union Refutes Assertions Made By The Townsville Bulletin

The ‘article’ by Cameron Bates published in The Townsville Bulletin, (Exclusive: Inflation, wage demands mean rates increases: Mayor, 3 May 2023) concerning The Services Union’s pay negotiations with Hinchinbrook Shire Council contains outright falsehoods.

The article’s assertion that The Services Union “…are [sic] seeking employee wage increases of eight per cent […] followed by increases of at least six percent” via its log of claims is demonstrably false.

The Union’s log of claims contains no mention of any percentage increase at all, and instead calls for ‘Fair salary outcomes which […] at least maintain the real value of wages and allowances’.

The Services Union’s log similarly contains no mention whatsoever of on-call allowance or ‘paid “Union Picnic Day”’, as falsely claimed in the article.

As for the Bulletin article’s claim that the Union’s pursuit of a pay rise could result in local residents being “hit with high rate increases”, it is difficult to understand the logic behind this statement given that the article also says that the “Shire has experienced something of an economic boom” and that “wages have not kept pace”. If the boom has occurred, then surely the question should be whether the Council has capitalised on this through increased rate income, and is in a position to offer commensurate pay improvements, given that Council staff are also local residents.

If the Bulletin article is based on assertions the Council has made, then The Services Union would remind the Bulletin of its journalistic duty to double-check the veracity of such assertions to ensure balanced reportage free from perceived editorialisation.

At no time, did the journalist Cameron Bates contact The Services Union for comment.

The Services Union is now considering making a formal complaint to the Australian Press Council.

Update - 5 May 23

The Townsville Bulletin Editor Paul Brescia contacted The Services Union after receiving our Media Alert. The newspaper has now updated the article and also included an editor's note at the end.  You can read it here . We also await a public apology in Saturday's paper.

Statement by TSU.