Striking waste operators resume work amid tender dispute

Striking waste operators resume work amid tender dispute

Waste operators involved in a dispute with the new Central Coast super council over job and wage security in a new tender process have returned to work following industrial action.

The group of 68 waste operators went on strike last week, affecting kerbside bin collections, after talks with super council administrator fail to reach agreement on job security.

One of the affected waste operators, Ian Hankinson, confirmed that the group started back at work on Tuesday morning (7 June).

“We’re seeing Fair Work Australia today (8 June) to attempt to sort out the details of our enterprise bargaining agreement,” said Mr Hankinson. “On Thursday morning we have a meeting with the council general manager and the administrator, and I’ll report back to the group on Friday morning.”

Mr Hankinson said there was a chance that the 68 waste operators could walk out again, although he doubted this would be effective without local community support.

Background

The 68 waste operators are employed by Remondis, which holds the current waste collection contract for the former Wyong and Gosford councils that is due to expire on 31 January 2018.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) had raised concerns with the new Central Coast super council regarding a termination clause in the group’s enterprise bargaining agreement with Remondis, which led them to seek assurances that their pay and conditions would be secured in the new contract – an issue outside the current operator’s control.

TWU representatives met Central Coast Council administrator Ian Reynolds and CEO Rob Noble for an emergency meeting on 1 June, but the negotiations ended without agreement. The waste operators went on strike last Thursday (2 June) and marched on the council last Friday with the aim of securing a meeting with Mr Reynolds to break the deadlock, but this did not happen.

“For months the mayors of Gosford and Wyong councils told them they didn’t have the power to make a decision on the tender of the new waste contract,” TWU acting secretary Richard Olsen said last week.

“Now the new administrator is in place he has the power to put local jobs, local work and the safety of the local community into the new tender for the waste contract. But he’s not given any guarantees on this. In fact, he is yet to meet with waste operators.”

“All the 68 local waste operators are looking for is guarantees around their jobs and conditions in the new tender for council waste services, which we understand is being finalised by the Council right now.

“We know that Campbelltown City Council have inserted clauses into their waste service tenders that protect local jobs, existing workers and their conditions. It’s been done before and it can and must be done on the Central Coast,” added Mr Olsen.

An update on negotiations is due from the TWU on Friday.