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Garbage Truck Operators Unable To Meet Mayor Despite Several Requests

Release date: 15/01/2016

Coast Community News, 14 January 2016
 
Garbage truck operators servicing the Gosford Local Government Area have written to Gosford mayor, Cr Lawrie McKinna requesting a meeting to discuss wage rates, industrial conditions and waste tender renewals on Monday, January 18.

Mr Ian Hankinson, Transport Workers Union yard delegate representing the drivers based in Somersby said the council's garbage truck operators were seeking job security in the lead up to the announcement of tenders for the delivery of waste services, expected to be advertised in March or April.
 
Remondis (formerly Thiess Services) currently has the waste service contract for both Gosford and Wyong council.
 
Roughly 76 full time employees are based at the Somersby yard including drivers along with a small team of mechanics and office staff, The Remondis contract is in place until February 1, 2018.


Image: Garbage truck operators at the Somersby yard
 
"We are trying to get clauses placed into that tender on wages and conditions," Mr Hankinson said.
 
"We are prepared to negotiate on our hourly rate so we are not stuck in the mud with it and we are not asking for more money," he said.
 
"We would like a fair pay rate."
 
At the moment a new contract could result in the garbage truck operators losing around $10 per hour in basic wages.
 
"It is a huge cut and this is what we are trying to get across," he said.
 
Mr Hankinson said the workers also want the local council to support their calls for job security and continuity between contractors.
 
"At the moment, if a new contractor goes in, we will all have to re-apply for our jobs.
 
"I have worked for 25 years and I have never been able to take my long service leave.
 
"We would like the two councils to first of all protect our jobs, give us job security.
 
"It is their tender, they could put anything in their tender.
 
"The incoming contractor for a start needs to offer us a job.
 
"Our long service leave should be paid out from one company into the next company so we will have continuous service and our holiday leave should also roll over from one contractor to another so it is continuous service.
 
"We are desperately trying to seek a sit down so we can go through and outline everything we are after and hopefully negotiate a fair deal that every contractor can tender at."
 
Mr Hankinson said competition between waste services contractors is cut throat.
 
"It is a race to the bottom. "If a contractor is paying above the award, anyone can come in and tender at the award rate and obviously it is cheaper.
 
"We believe Remondis has to tender at our current rate but they believe they can tender at whatever rate they want.
 
"The drivers are all local residents, all family men who have been there a long time.
 
"We want to make the residents aware of what is going on.
 
"It would help if the residents could call or email council to tell them it is not the right thing to do with the garbos,' he said.
 
The letter to Cr McKinna said: "We are, of course, happy to meet jointly with the general manager, but because you are the mayor. Our priority is to meet with you.
 
"We would appreciate your decision not to refer this matter elsewhere, but to take management responsibility for negotiations, at least until agreement on processes has been reached.
 
The letter suggested a meeting time on Monday, January 18.
 
"This has been an unnecessarily drawn out source of friction," the letter said.
 
"I have attempted to arrange discussions with you several times but to no avail.
 
"The friction is now taking on the characteristics of a dispute, something we had wished to avoid.
 
"The anxiety caused by the dissipation of our negotiating time while you refuse to talk, is now generating real stresses among the drivers and distress to their families.
 
"The drivers feel that, despite many years of loyal, safe and competent service to the Central Coast community, their livelihood is now threatened by decreases in hourly pay rates and the replacement of permanent and full-time jobs with casual and part-time jobs.”
 
Email, Jan 7, 2016
 
Ian Hankinson
 
Transport Workers Union

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