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Council moves on stand off between waste contractor and union

Following ongoing industrial unrest, a resolution has been moved by Canterbury City Council instructing waste contractor JJ Richards to enter into negotiations with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) for a collective agreement for south western Sydney waste workers’ pay and conditions. Workers are claiming this as a victory in what they have coined Sydney’s “waste war”.

Canterbury City Council is one of the first councils in NSW to act on this issue with the resolution raised by Councillor Mark Adler.

“Council notes that an industrial issue has arisen between the company JJ Richards and Sons, which Council has engaged under contract for waste collection services, and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) which represents the workers employed by the company on the Canterbury City Council Contract,” said Cr Adler.

“Council considers that it is strongly in the public interest for this issue to be resolved amicably”.

The resolution called on JJ Richards to provide reasonable access for officials of the TWU to the Chipping Norton yard where the workers on the Canterbury City Council contract are based, and to commence “meaningful negotiations” with the TWU for an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) for the workers on the Canterbury City Council contract.

The resolution was carried with overwhelming support.

“We thank Canterbury Council and in particular Councillor Adler, for making the first step to work with us to protect the local workforce,” said state secretary of the TWU, Wayne Forno.

TWU senior official, Michael Aird, said that this issue was not isolated to workers employed on the Canterbury City Council contract, and their campaign extended to other operations of JJ Richards and waste contractor URM. He said the campaign was not just about the “right to collectively bargain on wages”.

“They are running an ideological agenda in refusing to recognise people’s rights to be represented by a union…it’s about providing a workplace that provides respect and dignity at work”.

“One thing we want to bargain on is the right to have a dispute referred to an independent umpire to make a decision…and things like consultative committees, the right to attend a union meeting and training on industrial rights,” said Aird.

The TWU said JJ Richards has refused to negotiate with the union for a collective agreement for more than a year. According to union members, JJ Richards recently attempted to block them from entering the site to have a meeting with management, representing a worker active in the union who JJ Richards wanted to transfer against his will.

Aird said the TWU continues to seek a meeting with JJ Richards but “there’s been no breakthrough” to date.

When asked what the TWU’s next course of action would be, Aird said it would be a matter for its members but “there is a possibility that there could be some industrial disruption on waste contracts but the other position is that we’ll be campaigning with councils across NSW”.

Aird said the TWU would be advising councils of waste contractors that it believes are not meeting their legal obligations and also seeking to have worker’s rights included as part of the tender process for waste contracts.

JJ Richards chose not to make comment to Inside Waste.

Source: Inside Waste Weekly

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