ACT Garbage Collectors to Go on Strike

Release date: 16/04/2014

Canberra garbage collectors will go on strike on Wednesday and Thursday next week, in response to what they say are stalled negotiations with Sita Australia.

Canberra Times, by Ben Westcott, 17 April 2014

Strike: Garbage collectors will not collect rubbish on Thursday and Friday after negotiations over pay broke down, union says. Photo: Rohan Thomson

More than 95 per cent of Transport Workers Union members voted on Wednesday morning to take industrial action, after negotiations over a new collective agreement failed.
Large sections of Belconnen and Gungahlin will go without recycling and garbage collection services next week following the Easter long weekend.
TWU Canberra secretary Klaus Pinkas said the workers had not taken the decision to go on strike lightly, but they had been pushed to the limit.
"It's the people of the ACT who will suffer from this, which could have been resolved if TAMS and Sita had come to their senses," he said.
"The guys just won't let them get away with it."
Mr Pinkas said Canberra's waste workers had been doing the same job over the same hours but earning between $100-150 less a week since the kerbside garbage contract changed hands in October 2013.
All collections are now run by Sita Australia Pty Ltd.
"No changes to the hours, no changes to the bins they're picking up, just a change to the amount of dollars," Mr Pinkas said.
"This is despite the commitment through [Territory and Municipal Services Minister] Shane Rattenbury that no one would be worse off through that process.
"Hopefully this will get a reaction from Sita and we can get them to see sense. The guys are after what they had last year."
He said the garbage collectors would not accept anything less than what they had been paid under the previous contract and didn't rule out further strikes.
"I'm old enough to remember a garbage dispute in the '80s that went for three weeks," he said.
SITA Australia corporate affairs manager Luke Schepen said they believed their proposed agreement was fair and it was unfortunate it had come to this.
"SITA has been negotiating in good faith with the TWU for some time and we are extremely disappointed the union is contemplating this industrial action," he said.
"In our proposal employees will receive wages greater than what they were paid under the previous contractor along with conditions of employment that mirror those they were working under last year.
"Unfortunately the TWU action may disrupt essential services to ACT households and we will take all necessary action to minimise disruption."
In a statement, ACT NOWaste acting director David Roberts said the ACT government had believed the negotiations had been progressing well and encouraged both parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
He said the Mitchell and Mugga Resource Management Centres would be made available for free disposal of household waste and recyclables on all days of industrial action.
"Residents facing genuine hardship or requiring emergency household waste or recycling collection will also be able to contact Canberra Connect on 13 22 81," he said.
Large numbers of suburbs in Gungahlin and Belconnen will miss out on kerbside garbage collection and recycling services next week as a result of the strike.
The suburbs missing out are Amaroo, Bonner, Cook, Crace, Dunlop, Forde, Gungahlin, Hawker, Higgins, Holt, Jacka, Latham, Macgregor, Macquarie, Moncrieff, Ngunnawal, Palmerston, Scullin and Weetangara.
A number of suburbs will also miss out on just their garbage collections next week, including Aranda, Belconnen, Bruce, Casey, Charnwood, Dunlop, Evatt, Florey, Flynn, Fraser, Fyshwick, Giralang, Hall, Kaleen, Lawson, McKellar, Melba, Nicholls, North Lyneham, Page and Spence.

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