25 November 2020

Garbage strikes to continue after drivers vote down pay rise

| Dominic Giannini
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Drivers picketing at Suez

Suez garbage truck drivers have turned down Suez’s most recent pay rise offer. Photo: TWU NSW.

ACT garbage truck drivers voted this morning (25 November) to reject an 8.3 per cent pay rise over three years, standing firm on their push for a 4 per cent yearly pay rise over the next three years.

Suez met with the Transport Workers Union and the Fair Work Commission on Monday (23 November) when Suez raised its offer from 8 per cent over three years.

It is the sixth offer the garbage collection company has presented to its drivers. Drivers received a 3.4 per cent increase in April this year.

The rejection of the most recent offer means industrial action is back on the table for drivers, but will not be able to take place until Thursday next week at the earliest as notice must be given.

Industrial action planned for this Friday (27 November) has been postponed.

TWU ACT branch secretary Klaus Pinkas said the union would keep negotiating to ensure that essential workers were well paid. A revised offer is expected from Suez in the next few days, he said.

“This is not some local struggling business. It is a huge multinational doing very well out of their contract with the ACT.

“In response to claims that Garbos are being greedy, the TWU believe that it is a good idea that critical workers are well paid for the job they do.

“It is generally acknowledged that low wage growth is a problem in both the national and ACT economies.”

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Suez’s NSW General Manager of Collections and Logistics Paul Haslam says the business still has to remain economically viable to survive during a COVID-19 recession.

Mr Haslam says that of the 2,500 employees the company has in Australia, some staff have not had an increase this year, while those on hourly rates have seen increases between 1 and 3 per cent.

“All divisions across Suez have taken action to adjust to the vastly altered economic landscape in which we are all living in order to ensure the longer-term economic sustainability of our business,” the company said previously.

“These steps include no CPI salary increase for salaried employees in 2020 and alternative working arrangements, including a reduction in hours for many employees.

“Like many other Australian executives, our senior leadership team took a 25 per cent pay reduction for three months at the height of the pandemic.”

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Absolutely disgusting. They are already overpaid and need a pay cut. This sort of unreasonable industrial action needs to be outlawed. This is sickening to see when everyone else is struggling.

Driving an airconditioned truck all day must really be challenging

Suez – time to toughen up and stop acting like wimps. You are losing respect of everyone, including the community. Make a counter-offer. For every week industrial action continues, Suez will reduce its 8.3% pay offer by 1%.

Can Fair Work finally do the right thing and remove their protection? They are striking over a demand for an unreasonable pay increase. It’s not about safety or unreasonable conditions. Suez should be able to fill the positions with people who want to work for the wages offered. The wages these people signed up for and now don’t want to hold up their end of the agreement.

Let’s see if Labor help the community as a whole or just their union mates/donors.

I want my rates back.

I am all for industrial action for working conditions, equity and safety but why do none of the signs in the attached picture mention the pay claim? This dispute is only about the money.
While the union claims that Suez gets the same payment regardless of COVID, it is unlikely that they have a 12% price escalation clause in their contract.

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