by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Wattle Range Council meeting last night Tuesday 12th May became a platform for an orderly presence in the gallery by council workers unhappy about recent announcements that management will receive a 3.8% wage increase while after 6 months of negotiation, they will receive 2.2% increase. The increase still means that Wattle Range Council workers are still the lowest paid Wattle Range Council workers and among the lowest paid council workers in the state, said AWU South East Branch Organiser Kathleen Galvin.
Over 30 Members of the Australian Workers Union employed at Wattle Range Council took their concerns directly to council in what they referred to as their quest to reach a just and fair outcome in their current negotiations with council.
Ms Galvin said formal correspondence from the Union had been sent to Council by letter and email on 1st May, requesting the opportunity to address council. A reply from Mayor Gandolfi had been received on the 5th May, refusing their request.
She questioned that this matter did not appear in the Mayors Communications.
It is standard procedure that all items be received 2 weeks before council meets for an item to be included on the agenda.
During the meeting, Councillor Cox queried the minutes of a confidential matter on the agenda and the gallery was asked to leave the chambers. Ms Galvin questioned the request, saying that as council employees the members could stay. This brought a stern response from the Mayor who said, “You will leave!” The Mayor referred to the Local Government (Procedures at Meetings) Regulations 2013 under the local Government Act 1999.
Ms Galvin’s said the Act also states that if the presiding member, in this case the Mayor, refuses to allow a deputation to appear at a meeting, the presiding member must report the decision to the next meeting of council and this had not been done by the presiding member, she said. The Act states that a council may resolve to allow a deputation to appear despite a contrary ruling by the presiding member.
Mayor Peter Gandolfi addressed the wages issue after the confidential matter was dealt with and the public had returned to the Chambers.
The members returned to the meeting, staying until a little after 6-00 pm.
Mr Harriott declined to make a comment to wattlerangenow today, saying he would allow the processes underway to continue. Mr Harriott could not predict a time frame for a satisfactory outcome but said he will provide further information when it does.
Ms Galpin said the members accept that CEO Peter Harriott was not part of the decision when the matter was originally set, “but he is the CEO now and and he can make change. He is accountable for his decisions. This is about people and all workers deserve sustainable wages. These people are family people, just wanting a fair go,” she said.