Councillor wants strength in numbers

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Striking a bargain: Cr Colin Hampton wants councils across Victoria to band together to collectively negotiate pay and conditions with staff.

A FRANKSTON councillor is pushing for council employees throughout Victoria to be subject to a single enterprise bargaining agreement.

Cr Colin Hampton, who described himself as a former EBA negotiator “in the newspapers business” at this month’s public council meeting, claimed staff at councils are paid more than employees in other sectors.

“Local government is between 15 and 17 per cent above the national wage in this country because the unions have got such an open hand in negotiating,” Cr Hampton said at the council meeting.

The councillor, a longtime Labor Party member, said unions had the upper hand in negotiations with council management over pay and conditions for workers.

“If I had the ability that the union has here to negotiate individually around the state I’d be rubbing my hands.”

Cr Quinn McCormack was the only one of nine councillors at the meeting to vote against Cr Hampton’s proposal to have a statewide collective bargaining agreement discussed at the Municipal Association of Victoria’s annual conference in May next year.

The proposal calls on the Fair Work Commission to negotiate a statewide EBA for all 79 of Victoria’s councils.

There would be three separate pay bands within any single state EBA — inner metropolitan, outer metropolitan including Frankston and country Victoria.

Cr Hampton’s attempt to push for solidarity between councils negotiating with unions comes as Frankston Council management and the Australian Services Union remain deadlocked over a pay rise offer to staff.

A 386-274 majority of Frankston Council staff rejected a 1.4 per cent pay rise for the second time last month.

The union says the 1.4 per cent offer is effectively a pay cut since it is less than the annual rate of inflation.

A near 10 per cent pay rise in 2015 for council CEO Dennis Hovenden — taking his remuneration to $325,000 — has been highlighted by the ASU in its campaign to persuade council workers to “vote no” against the 1.4 per cent pay rise offer.

Council chief executive officer pay is not subject to an enterprise bargaining agreement and any change to CEO pay and conditions during the term of a contract is decided by councillors during annual performance reviews discussed behind closed doors.

First published in the Frankston Times – 11 September 2017

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