The Guardian November 15, 2000


Workers fight council

by Kevin Watkins

The outside workers employed at the City of Belmont in Western Australia 
are currently very concerned at the anti-worker stance being adopted by 
management, in their attempt to impose upon them a collective non-union 
agreement.

The workers who are members of the Municipal Employees Union (MEU), have 
voted and signed a petition stating that they want the award to remain in 
their hands.

Contrary to this, the Belmont Council is attempting to inhibit the MEU 
workers from continued protection of the Union, despite the Industrial 
Relations Commission saying that the Union should continue to be 
represented.

The Council's current management is being extremely hard nosed in 
continuing to refuse the workers a say, despite them insisting on Union 
participation.

In the past, the Union has had to take the employer to court to enforce 
award provisions, against what has proven to be the confrontationist 
attitude of management.

The Belmont workers believe that once the award is removed (in other words 
the Union) then they, the workers, will be left high and dry without any 
protection against unreasonable demands or actions from Council, as has 
already happened.

According to the MEU, this is a very unusual situation in councils 
throughout Western Australia.

The Belmont Council even hired an industrial consultant, however the Union 
was excluded from any meetings.

The Council even refuses to give its workers any guarantee of job security 
even when the workers only seek a guarantee over the next three years. Any 
agreement on wages and conditions has been refused for over 12 months.

The MEU believes that once a non-union agreement came into force, then the 
next move by Council management would be the introduction of individual 
contracts and or sub-contractors.

The workers are also concerned that the Council's attitude will flow on to 
be reflected in the shire's treatment of ratepayers in Belmont.

Therefore, a campaign has begun to enlist the support of ratepayers and 
various environmental and heritage groups. The Union is determined and will 
press ahead with action to protect its members.

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