Union campaign moves up a notch

Issue 

Workers from the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) stopped work for the second time in a week to protest outside Ballarat city hall.

The second protest coincided with a visit from Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu on April 15.

However, Baillieu did not turn up while the workers were protesting, delaying the scheduled event for 90 minutes.

The ASU and the ANF have been locked in negotiations with the Ballarat City Council for more than 12 months for a new enterprise agreement and wage rises. Workers last received a pay rise in July 2009.

The ANF is representing maternal and child health nurses in negotiations with the council. In recent weeks, the ANF and other unions tried to resolve an impasse over the council’s refusal to offer an annual 4% pay rise to its employees.

ANF Organiser Allan Townsend told Green Left Weekly: “The nurses are already paid between 4.5% and 11.5% less than nurses at comparable councils and if they are unable to increase their wages by at least 4% per year their pay will fall further and further behind.

“The council would like to split the unions and try to force the ASU members, which are the majority of council workers, to accept a lesser increase.

“The council has offered 3.6%. But when you are already on a low to middle income a small percentage increase means next to nothing in dollar terms. The ANF is sticking by the other unions in solidarity. We all work together and we will see this campaign through together.”

Another strike and rally is planned for April 20 at 8am on the steps of City Hall, Stuart St, Ballarat.