SYDNEY and CANBERRA: Cleanaway garbage collectors, members of the Transport Worker Union, staged a 24-hour strike on 11 April at four Sydney depots—two depots for the fifth time—and for the second time in Canberra against the company’s EBA offer which would cut wages and conditions.
The depots in Hillsdale, Randwick (residential waste), Erskine Park (commercial waste) and Silverwater (hospital waste) and Canberra all went out over being forced to work on weekends, longer shifts while losing overtime penalty rates, as well as pay disparity across depots and the lack of job security. The City of Sydney garbage collectors earn $4 less an hour than most other depots in NSW.
Cleanaway, the biggest garbage collection company with more 200 depots, is rolling out a national EBA with the same attacks, which has led to workers voting to authorise strikes at Noosa in Queensland and multiple sites in Victoria, with a strike ballot due in WA.
The company’s most recent half-year profit, after tax, is $49 million. Its previous year’s full-year profit was $80.6 million.
SYDNEY: Academics and professional staff at the University of Sydney struck on 5 April for a ninth time, making it the biggest dispute in the history of the National Tertiary Education Union.
Workers have won improvements including a commitment for casual staff to get five days of paid sick leave a year.
But they are fighting on for a cap on education-focused roles, an above-inflation pay rise and population-parity employment for Indigenous staff.
PERTH: Hundreds of academics at Curtin University, members of the National Tertiary Education Union, walked out for three hours on 13 March, barely three weeks in the first semester. They voted for further action if management does not increase its offer.
The strike is over workloads, secure employment and a 5 per cent pay rise in the first year of an EBA, which is still a pay cut with inflation running at 7.8 per cent.
Management offered 2.2 per cent for five years and in February held a non-union staff ballot to get their rotten deal up. It was rejected by 72 per cent of those who voted.
Curtin University posted a $113 million surplus last year.
MELBOURNE: About 170 zookeepers and ground staff at Zoos Victoria—with sites at Parkville, Healesville and Werribee—took industrial action over Easter for a pay rise higher than the 3 per cent state government pay cap.
The workers, members of the United Workers Union and the Community and Public Sector Union, took action on Good Friday. They had already voted on 28 March for about 20 work bans and in favour of strikes for up to 24 hours.
The bosses’ paper, the Financial Review, is playing up the zoo workers’ pay claim as a test for the Andrews Labor government.
UWU executive director Godfrey Moase told the media, “Workers at Zoos Victoria say the government’s revised wages offer of 3 per cent is still a real cut.”
NATIONAL: Sydney’s flagship ABC office saw hundreds of non-media staff, members of the Community and Public Sector Union, go on strike on 22 March for the first time in 17 years.
Technical staff, human resources and finance workers there and around the country walked out for a decent pay rise, “significantly disrupting radio programming”.
CPSU members were lucky enough to have left-wing balladeer Billy Bragg at the protest to lead a rendition of “Solidarity Forever”.
BODDINGTON, WA: 132 maintenance workers at South32’s Worsley alumina refinery, members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, struck on 21 March after the company, yet again, offered a non-union EBA.
The strike follows two previous 24-hour stoppages in January and late December.
The company pay offer does not match inflation or represent pay parity with other workers in the industry. It also includes changes to shifts and rosters to suit the company.
The company offer does not allow new workers to join a benefits scheme, in effect creating a two-tier workforce.
WOLLONGONG, NSW: Thirty nurses at Healthe Care, a private day surgery hospital, went on strike on 22 March for four hours over low pay, understaffing and forced overtime, and a poor nurse-to-patient ratio.
The nurses, members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, want a decent EBA with Australia third’s largest private health care provider, which initially offered only 2.5 per cent a year over four years.
Nurses rejected that offer in December. Healthe Care then gave a “revised” pay offer which included an additional 1.75 per cent spread over the four-year agreement. The company refuses to negotiate on staffing ratios.
About 800 union members at nine other privately owned hospitals voted in March to authorise strikes.
NEWCASTLE, NSW: Manufacturing and maintenance workers from PKK Mining Equipment at Tomago went on strike for 24 hours on 5 April for a pay rise.
The strikers, members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Australian Workers Union had their pay frozen in 2021 by the owner Dale McNamara, who promised pay rises after a merger went through.
That has been and gone and the company is making bigger profits, with revenue up 23 per cent last year.
The company is offering a total of 11 per cent for a five-year EBA. Because of the two-year wage freeze workers wants a 10 per cent rise in the first year, followed by 5 per cent in the second and third year.
McNamara ran for One Nation in the Upper Hunter by-election of 2021 for the NSW Legislative Assembly.
By Tom Orsag