Wednesday 17 May 2023

Up to 100 local government workers from the City of Albany will walk off the job this morning after the City took the extraordinary step to retire the current Enterprise Agreement (EA).

A State EA hasn’t been retired since 2006, leaving more than 400 staff with uncertain pay and conditions.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) WA, who will lead the industrial action, said its members had been frustrated with the City of Albany’s approach since 2020.

“During the height of the pandemic the City convinced workers to take a pay freeze and to use up 20 per cent of their leave within six months, claiming it was going to experience a financial crisis,” ASU WA Branch Secretary Wayne Wood said.

“This financial crisis never happened, and the City tried to sweeten workers with what we call a ‘sugar fix’ bonus, instead of reinstating their pay entitlements. These bonuses are just that, a quick fix because they don’t consider superannuation and other entitlements.”

When the agreement expired in June 2022, the City offered workers a 6 per cent pay increase. Given members were already behind after the pay freeze and that this was below CPI, the ASU took the matter to the Industrial Magistrates Court of WA.

“The CPI equalled 7.6 per cent. The City was robbing our members of 1.6 per cent and this is what our members deserved just to be able to put dinner on the table,” Mr Wood said.

“Unfortunately, the City of Albany has been too impatient to wait for a court decision and decided to retire the agreement instead. 

“This is an abuse of power by the City and could set a concerning precedent among local governments across WA.

“It’s obvious the City is retiring the agreement to strip workers of their hard-fought conditions and entitlements.

“Ultimately this decision comes from the top and what we’d like to know is: how much of a pay rise did the CEO and executive team receive while ripping off their workers?”

The ASU and its members are calling on the City of Albany to maintain its current conditions in a legally binding industrial agreement that is registered, not in a policy that is subject to the whim of the City.