Negotiations continue to try to avert another week of garbage strikes

Dominic Giannini 24 November 2020 45
Garbage bins. Photo: Region Media.

Future garbage bin collection strikes are on the horizon for Canberrans. Photo: Region Media.

Negotiations over pay and conditions which could avert strike action are continuing between garbage collection company Suez and the drivers’ union, the Transport Workers Union (TWU). Both parties met yesterday with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to try to find a solution to the six-month impasse.

The union is set to meet with its members tomorrow (25 November) when discussions will continue.

TWU ACT Secretary Klaus Pinkas said the union gave Suez “some things to think about” at their meeting on Monday (23 November).

Suez representatives also presented further options to the TWU in line with the FWC’s 18 November request that both parties reconsider their bargaining positions.

Both parties will meet with the commission again on 2 December.

Four days’ notice must be given before any industrial action, so the earliest day drivers could strike would be early next week. If drivers walk out again, it will be the fourth time in five weeks that some Canberra residents would miss out having their bins collected.

Mr Pinkas said the drivers had the support of the Canberra community.

“Garbos across the ACT have reported that the vast amount of feedback from local residents has been supportive. Drivers who work for Suez, picking up the bins in the ACT, are locals too. They work where they live,” Mr Pinkas said.

“In response to claims that garbos are being greedy, the TWU believes 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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However, Suez’s NSW General Manager of Collections and Logistics Paul Haslam says the company has been negotiating in good faith, going back to drivers with five different offers over the past six months.

Drivers received a 3.4 per cent pay rise this year, and Suez is offering a pay rise of 2 per cent in 2021, 3 per cent in 2022 and 3 per cent in 2023. The union wants 4 per cent each year.

The union is also negotiating for the restoration of a paid rest break after two hours of overtime and the better efficiency in managing matters taken to the human resources department.

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.


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45 Responses to Negotiations continue to try to avert another week of garbage strikes
Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:46 am 24 Nov 20

Collections as usual in Tuggers this morning. Truck being driven by a smiling lady.

Leanne Hermes Leanne Hermes 10:02 am 24 Nov 20

Support from the community? Not many that I have read. They already get paid more than teachers and nurses and certainly don't have a lot of peoples support.

    Chris Vlahos Chris Vlahos 10:15 am 24 Nov 20

    Mr Pinkas is living in a dream world.

    Robert Honeybone Snr Robert Honeybone Snr 10:15 am 24 Nov 20

    Leanne Hermes so this started before the act elections and stopped during

    Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 10:18 am 24 Nov 20

    Leanne Hermes exactly.😡

    Ian McTaggart Ian McTaggart 10:20 am 24 Nov 20

    Chris Vlahos Mr Pinkas continues to be paid while the drivers lose their pay while on strike.

    Jesse Mahoney Jesse Mahoney 10:32 am 24 Nov 20

    Robert Honeybone Snr because new agreements cannot generally be signed during caretaker. There are ways around that, but it's not common.

    Leanne Hermes Leanne Hermes 10:58 am 24 Nov 20

    Clinton Berry you do realise there are other people talking about it and not just the Riot Act. When I look at all the people who have had wage freezes and the fact that nurses get paid less than I think maybe the truck drivers need to have aa look at themselves. I agree with giving them fair break times but the rest is selfish.

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 11:01 am 24 Nov 20

    Jesse Mahoney the pay dispute is internal to Suez, it has no effect on the contract with the ACT Government, other then a clause or two covering disputes and non payment for service not rendered.

    Hence the election had nothing to do with this.

    Ben Foley Ben Foley 11:46 am 24 Nov 20

    Clinton Berry I support them. Sometimes striking is the only option. Just remember they're not being paid while they strike. They're not doing this lightly.

    Megan Baker-Goldsmith Megan Baker-Goldsmith 12:15 pm 24 Nov 20

    Leanne Hermes I’m in the Canberra community and I support the garbage truck drivers.

    Kylie Russell Kylie Russell 2:10 pm 24 Nov 20

    Leanne Hermes i was always told you couldn't make money looking out a window by teachers, umm I beg to differ now 🤣🤣

Hannah Zurcher Hannah Zurcher 10:33 am 24 Nov 20

"The union is also negotiating for the restoration of a paid rest break after two hours of overtime and the better efficiency in managing matters taken to the human resources department.

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."

Important part of the article, folks. Read the whole thing.

    Hannah Zurcher Hannah Zurcher 6:37 pm 24 Nov 20

    Anne O'Hara blame Suez for not coming to an agreement with the workers, not the workers for striking.

ssek ssek 10:36 am 24 Nov 20

Well the union are telling lies as usual, because I’ve seen barely anybody supporting this extortion for unreasonable pay rises.

Mat Triffitt Mat Triffitt 10:40 am 24 Nov 20

Classic TWU recruitment campaign. I bet all Suez drivers are now members...

JessP JessP 10:41 am 24 Nov 20

Mr Pinkas said the drivers had the support of the Canberra community.

Do they? Most people haven’t had a pay increase this a couple of years (non APS) and would be delighted to get 3.4% the year and 8% over the next 3 years.

Even the APS who have be getting 2% or less a year (after protracted negotiations) would be delighted with the deal offered by Suez.

    Phill kirkham Phill kirkham 2:19 pm 24 Nov 20

    Most people are either not in a union or are in a crap one. The TWU have always fought for its members. SUEZ has an on-going contract with the government and would have had employee wages and conditions and contingencies for increases factored into the tender process.

    Employers want to pay the least amount possible and employees want to earn as much as possible, such is the nature of bargaining. The only bargaining tool employees have is the withdrawal of its labour.

    chewy14 chewy14 8:43 pm 24 Nov 20

    Phil,
    Suez do not have an ongoing contract with the ACT government.

    And yes, employees do have the right to negotiate but if they aren’t being reasonable, they also might find themselves unemployed.

    Phill kirkham Phill kirkham 5:05 pm 26 Nov 20

    Suez has a contract that commenced in 2013 and expires 2023, worth $180million. They have 5 other contracts worth around $12million.

    An employee in the ACT cannot be terminated on the grounds that they are taking protected action. You cannot be made redundant for the same reason. If redundancies are legitimate, employees must be paid out all of their entitlements. Any incoming contractor could not deny a driver who worked for the previous contactor, a job, based on that employee taking protected industrial action with the previous contractor.

    If SUEZ believes the employees’ demands are unreasonable, they can apply to the Fair Work Commission for dispute resolution. Subject to the terms of an existing enterprise agreement, this may include arbitration. The Commission can take into account, existing contracts, financial statements and other labour and commercial market forces.

Michael Ahern Michael Ahern 11:24 am 24 Nov 20

Don’t see many other sectors getting a 4% pay rise each year...

Harry Vallianos Harry Vallianos 11:32 am 24 Nov 20

I think people need to be mindful of there comments. It is only speculation what these guys get paid. Do they get a base salary so if they work more hrs one week they get the same money? Also what are the conditions they are working in. I mean it’s not like they drive around in air conditioned trucks as I have ever noticed the windows open. Also the heat and stench in the hottest part of the yr. so next time you want to comment you are only speculating

    Nathan Stack Nathan Stack 11:41 pm 24 Nov 20

    Harry Vallianos no its realy not, its pretty well on the money

Mark Pittard Mark Pittard 11:58 am 24 Nov 20

In capitalism it doesn't matter what you think a job is worth, what matters is the amount of people who are willing to do it at a certain price. Yes, some careers pay more then you might expect, and others less, but this is to do with how many people want to do that job, rather than the difficulty of the job itself. Why do Nurses and Teachers get paid less than Garbage truck drivers? Because more people want to be Nurses and Teachers.

Nicole Milne Nicole Milne 12:39 pm 24 Nov 20

I heard the truck this morning in Gordon, so fingers crossed when I get home, both bins have been emptied!

Shayne Borger Shayne Borger 12:58 pm 24 Nov 20

Just get back to work and stop holding the community to ransom. TWU needs to look at whats affordable and workers need to understand it too. CPI is fair. The aim of union is to not make the employee worse off but now they hold the community to ransom with thug like mentality

    Farg Gough Farg Gough 4:54 pm 24 Nov 20

    Shayne, CPI is not fair. It once was, but the methodology changed years ago. CPI is simply a measure of inflation now.

    Wage Price Index is a fairer measure. ✅

    Matt McCann Matt McCann 6:15 pm 24 Nov 20

    Shayne Borger CPI is not a wage increase it’s just keeping up with inflation. Union members vote to take protected industrial action. The TWU represents the wishes of its members. We have the most restrictive industrial laws in the free world so exercising their only legal right to get a better deal for themselves every three or four years is not thuggish behaviour. SUEZ could just agree to a better deal, maybe they are the thugs

    Brian Windsor Brian Windsor 7:09 pm 24 Nov 20

    Shayne Borger how about you call Suez and tell them to pay the workers,

    So they can keep up with the cost of living...which no matter what Suez give them won't be enough,cause everything is going up

    Veg up

    Health care up fuel up

    Insurance up

    And on and on

    So do the community a favour lobby Suez to do a deal so we can all get our garbage collected

Kylie Russell Kylie Russell 2:11 pm 24 Nov 20

Teachers better rethink when they say you can't make a living looking out a window

David Warwick David Warwick 3:35 pm 24 Nov 20

So, is it being collected tomorrow or what?

    Kylie Russell Kylie Russell 4:13 pm 24 Nov 20

    David Warwick wanniassa was picked up today

Farg Gough Farg Gough 4:50 pm 24 Nov 20

At 8% they have support

At 12%, they don’t.

No ‘critical worker’ in Australia is pulling in 4% annual pay increases.

    Brian Windsor Brian Windsor 7:10 pm 24 Nov 20

    Farg Gough yes they are

    Farg Gough Farg Gough 8:58 pm 24 Nov 20

    Not a great deal of evidence in your response Brian Windsor.

    Care to elaborate? Cite a source?

William Coats William Coats 4:59 pm 24 Nov 20

Unfortunately The TWU has all the power here, at least they waited until after the election for the strikes. Its the same union that look after some bus drivers and not others, and make sure we will never have a good weekend timetable.

    William Coats William Coats 5:18 pm 24 Nov 20

    No they didn't want to interfere with campaign, there are no issues here. whats happened since election in last month? potholes, grass, jail riot, hospital bypass, hospital fail rates released, rubbish not collected, myway card credit machines delayed. nice how all of this landed just 1 month after election labor doing a great job.

Lee McDowall Lee McDowall 5:55 pm 24 Nov 20

As a pensioner who worked and paid my taxes and still am, wish I could get a pay rise.

    Neville Betts Neville Betts 9:15 pm 24 Nov 20

    Lee McDowall I agree, the liberal National federal government ignore pensioners & self funded retirees. The kick those at the coalface whilst enjoying 6.4 more supper than those they are trying to stop getting an increase of.5%!

    I don’t hear Scotty telling us He will legislate for consistency between federal polies & workers

Julie Mylchreest Julie Mylchreest 6:23 pm 24 Nov 20

When is the contract due for review?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:47 pm 24 Nov 20

“the TWU believes 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.”

There might have been a bit more justice in the first point in the days when garbos had to run, or at least trot, along behind the truck, and then hang on the outside in all weathers – things are a bit different now.

The second point is basically just a contemporary re-hash of the old wages arguments which ultimately boiled down to a question of which dog can/should chase its tail most quickly. It’s a mindset which got Australia into a lot of economic trouble, and which took a lot of sacrifice to get out of, in the days before the rest of the world started paying us ridiculous prices for the stuff which is dug out of the ground. We seem doomed to re-live that history.

Sean Bishop Sean Bishop 8:05 pm 24 Nov 20

Theyre being paid $37 and hour to sit in an air-conditioned cabin, lining up a hydrolic arm.. pushing a button then tipping off at the dump when full...

agerf agerf 10:14 pm 24 Nov 20

“Mr Pinkas said the drivers had the support of the Canberra community.”

No-one I’ve spoken to supports this. In a time where we’ve all had to make sacrifices, this industrial action is just unreasonable. Can’t they just be replaced?

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