Workers angry over councils' 'white flag' on WorkChoices

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Workers angry over councils' 'white flag' on WorkChoices

Council workers in NSW are today targeting a top local government official, claiming she has 'run up the white flag' on WorkChoices.

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Council workers in NSW are today targeting a top local government official, claiming she has 'run up the white flag' on WorkChoices.

Unites Services Union General Secretary, Ben Kruse, claimed NSW Local Government and Shires Association (LGSA) President and North Sydney Mayor, Genia McCaffery said last week said that while she opposed the policies behind WorkChoices, councils had no alternative but to use the new laws.

About 50 local government workers rallied outside McCaffery's office at North Sydney today.

Kruse, representing 60,000 NSW council workers, said that there was still a strong case that State laws could apply to local government.

Court challenges

'While there have been a number of court challenges, the matter is still very contentious — our advice is that NSW laws and the NSW Industrial Relations Commission can still protect workers in local government,' he said. 'Our message to Genia McCaffery and other mayors who say they support workers' rights is that their workers are relying on them to stand up to John Howard's laws and not give up before the battle has been fought.'

Kruse said this is a case where workers needed leadership from local government officials, 'not some capitulation because it is determined that it is too hard to protect the rights of workers'.

Call to sign agreement

'The first step for Cr McCaffery is to follow the example of 82 of the other councils in NSW and sign the USU Protection Agreement that recognises the power of the NSW IRC to continue to oversee wages and conditions,' he said. 'Councils also should to begin negotiations for a common law agreement for fair wage raises.'

Kruse said handing powers over to Canberra would threaten the delivery of local services, with many workers reliant on the family-friendly conditions enshrined in State awards.

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