Canberra unions ban revenue collections


By Tim Gooden CANBERRA — Having previously voted to give the minority Liberal government two weeks to negotiate an enterprise agreement with them, Canberra unions discovered on January 30 that ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell had rejected their proposed agreement without even reading it. The 200 delegates who attended the Trades and Labour Council-convened combined delegates meeting on January 31 therefore endorsed a campaign of bans and stop-works. The Carnell government has tried to counter the general dissatisfaction by offering deals to some unions. The Transport Workers Union was offered a 9% fully funded increase for all members at Action Buses. At a TWU mass meeting on February 1, members rejected the offer as an attempt to split them from the rest of the union movement. Indefinite bans have now been placed on all revenue collections areas. Public transport is now free (as it should be), TWU drivers refusing to collect fares. Parking fines are not being issued in pay parking areas, and the collection of vehicle inspection fees has also been banned. Stop-work meetings have been held in many workplaces, with union members implementing bans and walkouts. Delegates have not ruled out actions like placing a blockade on Canberra similar to that in WA last year. Because it has yet to call mass meetings or demonstrations, the TLC's coordination of the campaign has been heavily criticised. Taking the initiative, delegates from the Community and Public Sector Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have called for a rally outside the Australian Education Union's stop-work meeting of February 6. This is intended to show solidarity with the AEU and raise the profile of all unions' wage claims. Resistance, the socialist youth organisation, has called for a solidarity rally of high school students at the same time.