What You’re Not Being Told At Redland City Council
Redland City Council CEO Andrew Chesterman went over the top yesterday when he tried to link The Services Union’s industrial action to Council’s response to bushfires on Stradbroke Island. No industrial action has actually occurred and (and this is a big “and”) the CEO is the one threatening to lock out staff who have the temerity to wear a badge. While the badge would not impede any work necessary for the Council’s emergency response the reality is that the CEO could not care less whether you were at work or not.
There are several other howlers in the CEO’s newsletter that warrant further examination. As the CEO points out, Council has made a Scope Application to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (the QIRC). These applications give the QIRC the capacity to determine who is covered or not covered by a particular agreement.
So far no Local Government applicant has succeeded and it is not entirely clear what circumstances would need to exist for a successful application. One thing we do know for sure though is that the practice since the legislation came into operation in March 2017 has been that there are no negotiations and no conciliation or arbitration while a Scope application is on foot. So in reality the CEO’s own actions are the main cause for delay in finalising this agreement.
Too many “own goals”
We are only in the current predicament because Council let the cat out of the bag about wanting to move employees (our members) between Award streams in order to cut their wages and conditions and then threaten them with outsourcing, when we had the nerve to refuse Council’s request to cut those employees’ penalty rates. Now they say that is not their intention. If that is the case, Council should have no difficulty in recording this in the terms of the Agreement.
Employees who are asked to agree to a particular Agreement to cover their employment are entitled to certainty about all of their wages and conditions. Employees are also entitled to certainty about which Award they are employed under. We spent four years arguing about this when the Newman Government was hell bent on stripping away your conditions and incidentally while the CEO was doing his best for the Newman Government.
Also given that Council’s stated desire for the scope order (that the proposed agreement be identical in coverage to the Stream A Award) is exactly the same as the situation now and that our Union also wants to keep it that way, it’s difficult to assess Council’s true motive for seeking the scope order other than to delay your payrise.
Remember that there is never any impediment to an employer delivering a wage increase at any time. As the CEO himself said in yesterday’s Message, the proposed wage increase of 2.4% is not in dispute. Given that Council (to its credit) is accustomed to administratively providing wage increases when bargaining is not possible, it is surprising that the CEO is choosing to deny you the first increase of the proposed agreement, particularly when it’s been more than a year since your last increase.
As for the island fires, we heartily commend all members and Council staff who have assisted in the effort to control the situation. It is interesting to note though, that Council’s very own website states today (as it did yesterday when the CEO delivered his message) that surfing was still very much an option at Cylinder Beach – hardly consistent with the inferno situation painted by the CEO’s Message!
Stayed tuned. Your delegates will keep you posted on developments. And remember that no industrial action will be taken without discussion with those taking the action.
If you’re not in the Union you only get what you’re given – slim pickings! Join now: www.theservicesunion.com.au.