Australian city council locks out electricians for imposing work bans
3 June 2017
Brisbane City Council this week locked out 25 of its 30 electricians after they took limited industrial action to fight new rosters that would place them permanently on call.
For one day, the workers had imposed bans on paper work and “minor” tasks to oppose the council’s “flexible rostering” proposal, which would allow the council to force workers onto after-hours shifts. An email from council’s workplace relations manager said workers who took the action would not be required for work on Monday.
Employing about 7,500 workers altogether, the council covers most of the metropolitan area of the Queensland state capital. Its aggressive action underscores the determination of governments and employers across the country to dismantle workers’ conditions, slash wage levels and replace permanent workers with contractors.
The electricians service traffic signals, street lighting and other council facilities. The proposed roster system would end their right to choose whether to be available for night, weekend or on-call shifts. It would force some onto permanent night shifts and include weekends in the standard working week.
If workers refused to work at any time, including at night or on weekends, they could be sacked or disciplined and the work could be contracted out.
The electricians adopted the work bans as enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) talks between the council and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU), which began last October, dragged on, leaving them without a pay rise for five years. The council is also demanding cuts to sick and domestic violence leave entitlements.
James Careedy, one of the…