Garbage service interruption averted
A stop work meeting to be held by the Transport Workers' Union that may have interrupted the Peninsula's garbage collection services on January 10 has been averted.
The union has been campaigning on behalf of garbage workers employed by Remondis, the company contracted by the Central Coast Council to deliver its waste collection services.
The stop work meeting was to discuss stalled negotiations between the waste service employees and Remondis about a new enterprise agreement.
The union wants the Central Coast Council to guarantee that any new waste collection contractor must retain the current pay and conditions of the Coast's waste collection workers.
It wants the Council to include a specific clause in its next set of tender documents when it calls for new waste service delivery tenders.
The Remondis contract is set to expire on February 1 next year.
Union official Mr Grant Rodger said the union is not focused on negotiating with the Central Coast Council at this stage but wants to have a new enterprise agreement put in place with Remondis because the old agreement had expired.
However, the union advised on January 5 that its stop work meetings had been cancelled, for now.
"The company has now been given two weeks' notice to come up with a better current agreement to ensure that drivers' pay and conditions are protected as Remondis fulfils the waste contract to pick up residents' bins on behalf of Central Coast Council," Mr Rodger said.
"Central Coast Council still needs to act," he said.
"Administrator Ian Reynolds and CEO Rob Noble can still make a difference to workers who live where they work.
"The Transport Workers Union is calling for the Central Coast Council to let the Remondis workers know when the next waste contract tender will be released and to ensure that protection of pay, work conditions and entitlements are included in the tender."
However, stop work meetings may still be held, according to the union.
The timing of stop work meetings would be designed to provide minimal impact on the residents of the Central Coast, but some bins may take longer to be collected on those days, according to union secretary Mr Richard Olsen.
"Drivers are concerned about possible losses of wages and conditions around any changes to the waste contract run by the Central Coast Council," Mr Olsen said.
"They are not asking for a pay rise or anything else," he said.
"Drivers just want what they already have to be maintained and are questioning Central Coast Council as to why they refuse to provide security for local workers and local jobs.
"This is a matter that is in the hands of Remondis.
"They can accept the value of their experienced drivers who are the means by which they fulfil the contract on the Central Coast.
"Remondis are attempting to cut drivers' wages by 25 percent," Mr Olsen said.
"Blame for this must also rest at the feet of the Central Coast Council administrator Mr Ian Reynolds and Council CEO Mr Rob Noble.
"These two have washed their hands of the issues faced by drivers working for Remondis.
"Council must commit to protecting these workers who work where they live.
"The waste contract is issued by Council and it appears that the Council administrator is simply beyond caring about what happens to families on the Central Coast," Mr Olsen said.
Mr Rodger said the only path available to the employees was to take protected industrial action against Remondis but the ultimate goal would be to convince the Central Coast Council that any new competitive tender process should have workers' current conditions and wages as its base level.
He said workers had agreed to a wages freeze for the past two years in good faith while negotiating a new agreement with Remondis.
The union was attempting to secure a two per cent pay rise plus two percent over the next two years.
Mr Rodger said workers would not accept Remondis' current condition that their employees retain a new enterprise agreement for the first four years of any new contract with the Central Coast Council.
He said it was unreasonable to expect workers to do so when the Central Coast Council has not yet released any tender documents.
"The industrial action can go on for the next two years if Remondis and the Council like," Mr Rodger said.
"We bargain in good faith in an effort to strike the middle ground that is fair for everyone."
He said it usually took 18 months for a Council to do the ground work for a competitive tender of waste service.
On that basis, the union and its members expected Remondis' current contract to be extended for 18 months, he said.
In a media statement, Central Coast Council said: "The current waste contract with Remondis runs until January 31, 2018.
"There are no plans to extend that contract at this time.
"Council is finalising the tender documents and they should be issued publicly in the next month."
Media release, 3 Jan 2017
Media release, 5 Jan 2017
Colin Henderson, Transport Workers' Union NSW
Interview, 4 Jan 2017
Grant Rodger, Transport Workers Union
Media statement, 5 Jan 2017
Ian Noble, Central Coast Council
Reporter: Jackie Pearson