Council workers strike for better pay



WOLLONGONG — Council workers have struck for two days here after Wollongong City Council refused to increase its pay offer in negotiations on a new enterprise agreement.

Employees originally called for a 15% increase over three years but the council rejected this, offering only up to 11% for the three years, plus a $500 payment with "trade-offs".

Members of the Municipal Employees Union voted on July 4 against management's offer and more than 900 unionists walked off the job on an indefinite strike. The strike action was against recommendations from the state industrial commission.

At the July 4 meeting workers agreed that they would accept 12% plus $500 for each of the next two years, but Wollongong council refused and went instead to the commission seeking an immediate return-to-work order.

The commission recommended that both the council and MEU accept a 12% rise, which was agreed to by MEU members on July 6 on the recommendation of union officials.

However Wollongong City Council still wants to undermine what they term "restrictive work practices", in an effort to erode working conditions for union members.

The strike against the council follows the local MEU's participation in ongoing industrial action against the state government's attacks on workers' compensations.