The Australian Services Union (ASU) initiated a protest outside the City of Greater Geelong Council meeting on April 26 to show support council workers facing redundancies. Council was tabling its budget for the next financial year.
Council has said it will make 19 workers from its Community Life Division redundant. It is also proposing to redeploy workers from services that promote cultural diversity and gender equity.
According to local media reports, a significant amount is being allocated to executive level council officers’ wages, and to jobs that have not been publicly advertised. A former CEO has been accused of favouring appointees, some of whom were their previous colleagues.
Australian Services Union Vic/Tas Secretary Lisa Darmanin told the protest that council could be underreporting its budget deficit of $8 million for the 2022-2023 financial year. This, she said, could mean council would sack more people if it could not rein in its deficit.
Adele Welsh, co-convenor of the Geelong Women Unionists Network (GWUN), told Green Left it was “shameful” that council was cutting services for the most vulnerable people — including those facing homelessness and family violence — when the cost of living is already hitting hard.
The rally was supported by the Geelong Trades Hall Council as well as rank-and-file members of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation, the Independent Education Union, the Australian Education Union and the Health and Community Services Union.
Geelong Housing Action Group, Save Pako Street, Independent Peaceful Australia Network and the North West Alliance also supported the protest.