Monday, October 29, 2007

Holdfast Bay staff fight AWAs

The City of Holdfast Bay council chambers was the site of a protest against un-Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) this morning.

Staff employed by the local government covering the Glenelg and Brighton areas voted by a 75% majority in a secret ballot to reject AWAs in favour of a union-negotiated award.

However, the CEO of the City has rejected the views of the staff and insisted that they be placed on AWAs. Typical of the logic of bosses everywhere, he has convinced himself that he is open to negotiation, provided it is on his terms.

“Our management representatives,” he says in a pro-forma email reply to supporters of the staff, “remain prepared to negotiate on aspects of concern to the staff, provided it is based on the central component of a registered Workplace Agreement.”

About 25 staff, along with representatives of their union, the Australian Services Union, gathered on the council lawns this morning for a breakfast rally.

State Secretary of SA Unions, Janet Giles, turned up to show support, as did Australian Council of Trade Unions national secretary Jeff Lawrence (see photo below).

Full marks to Lawrence for being there, but the thrust of his message was that everything hinged on the outcome of the federal elections: “We need to make sure that we have a change of government so there is legislation that can resolve this type of dispute,” he said.

What needed to be added was that regardless of which party is elected to office on November 24, the campaign for “Your Rights at Work” which is now embedded in communities across the nation must be kept alive and must have a momentum and a focus independent of parliament.

The empowerment and activity of workers on the job, supported by community networking, is the key to the defeat of WorkChoices and un-Australian Workplace Agreements.

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