The infamous Marrickville council in Sydney – led by failed Greens political candidate mayor Fiona Byrne – has launched a savage attack on blue-collar workers at the council. Byrne first came to national attention when her involvement in championing council boycotts of Jewish commerce and Israel provoked a massive backlash, thought to be largely responsible for her defeat in the recent NSW state election.
As this local newspaper report makes clear, not only is the council planning to axe council workers involved in “green waste collection services” but also planned to break a strike with “scab labour” to replacing striking workers protesting the Greens council’s policies.
When the workers protested Mayor Fiona Byrne’s decision, she swiftly cancelled talks with the workers’ representatives. The striking workers intend to be at council premises at 4.30 tomorrow morning where scab labour is rumoured to be ready to start work to smash the strike. It could be quite a bloody confrontation, from what we hear.
MARRICKVILLE council workers walked off the job this morning in protest against the council’s plans to outsource green waste collection services.
The council’s waste collection workers say they were informed for the first time about the plans in a four-line email sent out yesterday afternoon.
Union leader: “We haven’t seen the likes of this since the waterfront dispute. This is the first council to bring in ‘scab’ labour when workers are on industrial action,’’
The email told staff the council would be calling for tenders over the weekend for the green waste collection.
It also informed all union members they could no longer conduct any union business during working hours.
After arriving for their regular shift at 5am this morning, waste workers decided to strike and walked off the site in protest against the council’s decision.
But the council had already anticipated the move and had at least 15 ‘scab’ workers ready to start work on the striking workers’ rounds. The contract workers have since taken over the waste collection pick-up today while the workers are on strike.
Addressing some 60 workers at a heated meeting outside Marrickville council chambers at noon today, United Services Union General Secretary Graeme Kelly said the council’s use of ‘scab’ workers was ‘unprecedented’.
“We haven’t seen the likes of this since the waterfront dispute. This is the first council to bring in ‘scab’ labour when workers are on industrial action,’’ Mr Kelly said.
He called on the Mayor Fiona Byrne, the council’s General Manager and all elected councillors to abandon ‘this campaign of war’ against council workers.
A meeting between union officials, Mayor Fiona Byrne and Greens MP David Shoebridge about the tender was called off this morning following the workers’ actions.
Marrickville Labor Cr Emmanuel Tsardoulias was the only councillor at the meeting.
Cr Byrne said the council was committed to a speedy resolution of this situation but in the meantime needed to provide waste services for residents.
“Residents need their rubbish collected. Staff walked away from overtime collection of 10 per cent of Greenwaste and refused to take up offers of reinstatement,’’ Cr Byrne said.
“Council has a commitment to no staff job losses and maintaining conditions. It has been proactive in creating new positions over the last year, by bringing services like graffiti removal and Trades back in house. We have created new apprenticeships to invest in the long term future of our workforce. Council is having to outsource Green waste collection because staff have refused to do it for last few months.’‘
“Council looks forward to a meaningful dialogue between staff, the union and management.’‘
Having heard that ‘scab’ labour will be on the site again early tomorrow morning, workers will meet at the depot at 4.30am.