News / Council

Council industrial dispute ends as staff vote yes to pay offer

Overwhelming endorsement of new agreement despite below-inflation pay rise

Librarians were among the council staff who took industrial action in May.

Mark Phillips
Wednesday, June 15, 2022

FOUR-out-of-five Moreland council workers have voted to accept a final pay offer from management, even though it will be lower than the rate of inflation.

An official ballot on the pay offer resulted in endorsement from 83% of the 910 union members who voted, bringing to an end a protracted industrial dispute that disrupted rubbish collection and other council services.

Despite the final pay rise for the current financial year being slightly over half the rate of inflation, the main union at Moreland says it is a much better outcome than what was originally offered by council management.

Wages will increase by $42 a week this year, or between 2.6% to 3.5%. Future pay rises over the life of the three-year enterprise agreement will see wages increase in total by almost 10%.

The initial offer from management had been for 1.5% this year. But with inflation running at 5.1% in March, the final outcome will mean a real wage cut for the current financial year.

The pay increases will begin flowing at the start of July.

Australian Services Union Victoria-Tasmania Secretary said that in addition to the pay rise, the union had won permanent allowances that would benefit workers across the council workforce.

She said other features of the new agreement included a span of normal working hours for library workers, a $20 working from home allowance and a personal phone allowance.

“Each of these new entitlements mean more money in workers’ pockets,” she said.

Bargaining for the new agreement took more than nine months, culminating in work bans and a full day stoppage in April which led to Moreland CEO Cathy Henderson personally intervening to restart negotiations.

Ms Henderson welcomed the settlement of the agreement, which at one stage appeared endangered by the refusal of members of the smaller Municipal and Utilities Workers Union to accept the pay offer.

MUWU members took further strike action at the start of June as they pushed for a higher pay rise. About 150 MUWU members voted no to the agreement, but it was not enough to stop it being endorsed.

Ms Henderson said she was “delighted” that the agreement had been overwhelmingly endorsed despite the opposition of the MUWU.

“Two of the three unions supported the agreement, with 910 staff taking part in the vote,” she said.

“We apologise to residents who experienced delays to their household waste collection due to industrial action by a third union. We have collected all waste that was delayed as a result of industrial action.

“I thank the community for their patience.”

Related story:

Council depot closes as industrial action bites

Disclaimer: the author is a member of the MEAA and the ASU.