The TWU will launch a national campaign to lift standards in the waste collection industry as Cleanaway workers plan to walk off the job for 24 hours on Wednesday for the sixth time in City of Sydney and for the first time across multiple sites in Victoria.
Waste workers have faced persistent attacks to pay and conditions by Cleanaway management across the country.
The strikes follow multiple others in NSW, Queensland, WA and ACT in recent weeks as workers face attempts by Cleanaway to strip back overtime entitlements and extend rosters, forcing workers to work weekends for less take home pay.
Cleanaway recently announced a $49 million half-year profit after tax.
The TWU says Cleanaway’s local government clients have a responsibility to ensure waste workers have fair and reasonable working conditions to ensure waste services can run smoothly and residential streets are safe.
City of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore has previously refused workers’ requests to meet to help reach a fair agreement.
The NSW safety regulator is investigating a workplace death at Cleanaway, Badgerys Creek, in which a worker was found ‘wedged between machinery’ in February this year. Another driver was killed in 2022 when his Cleanaway truck rolled on the Stuart Highway.
Six people have died in crashes involving Cleanaway trucks in Australia since 2011.
On Wednesday, the affected council areas will be City of Sydney, Greater Geelong City Council, Surf Coast Shire, Golden Plains Shire Council, City of Moonee Valley, and City of Hobsons Bay.
TWU NSW/Qld Secretary Richard Olsen said:
“For too long now, Cleanaway have engaged in conduct that hinders our good faith negotiations, and have continued to attempt to push these essential workers’ pay and conditions backwards. “
“We have continued to stand strong against their attempts to rush through a bad deal, and will continue to push back. We will not accept an agreement which continues to hurt hundreds of hardworking families.”
“The City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore continues to refuse to stand against these attacks on pay and conditions. Our members don’t want to continue to take protected action and continue to inconvenience their community, but the council continues to fail to intervene, which can only be seen as an endorsement of Cleanaway’s behaviour.”
TWU Vic/Tas Secretary Mike McNess said:
“Protected industrial action across four Cleanaway contracts in Victoria is a last resort for essential waste workers – but workers have had enough of Cleanaway’s consistent and reprehensible attacks on their wages and conditions. Instead of respecting their essential workforce with a fair deal, Cleanaway is systematically attacking conditions that keep workers and their families afloat.
“These workers are facing attacks by Cleanaway to their overtime, pay and conditions in Victoria and right across the country. We are living through a cost-of-living crisis and essential waste workers should not have to be fighting to maintain their wages and conditions.
“Instead of attempting to send workers backwards, Cleanaway should step up and deliver a fair deal to essential waste workers who communities and businesses rely on. The TWU is calling on Cleanaway to clean up their act and refocus on a fair deal for workers.
TWU National Assistant Secretary Nick McIntosh said:
“Clearly there is a loophole to be closed in the waste sector of the industry. You have Cleanaway trying to drag workers in on weekends to gain competitive advantage while the likes of JJ Richards drags down standards and threatens to undercut waste operators by ripping off workers. Enough is enough. Workers across the country are bravely exercising their rights to protected industrial action, but it shouldn’t be this hard to make a decent living doing one of the most essential jobs in the country.”
Notes on Cleanaway’s conduct
- Last year, the Supreme Court found Cleanaway guilty on two health and safety breaches over a 2014 SA truck crash that killed two people, on the basis it had failed to adequately train and supervise the driver, who was also badly injured in the crash and had already been cleared of charges.
- The TWU has also filed a dispute in the Federal Court over Cleanaway breaching its obligations to provide information to workers and the Fair Work Commission for a protected action ballot, which delayed workers’ accessing their rights.
- Last year the TWU successfully fought for the reinstatement of a delegate and elected worker bargaining representative who was unfairly sacked by the company.
- The Queensland Department of Environment and Science has laid 12 charges against Cleanaway for environmental offences carrying a maximum total penalty of $36.5 million. The matter is listed before the Ipswich Magistrates Court on 24 April 2023.