Union, council battle brews over $10p/hr labour hire pay cut

A UNION is demanding the Gladstone Regional Council revert a recent decision it says slashed some council worker's pay by $10 per hour.

The Australian Workers' Union claims the council threw out a deal made years ago after labour hire pay rates were changed from the council's collective agreement to the minimum wage.

The council rejected it had reneged on any deals, saying the amount labour hire worker's earn is determined by the companies they're employed through.

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The union wrote to the council on Friday demanding they revert back to the older, better pay rates.

Calling the move out as "complete hypocrisy", AWU Gladstone organiser Tony Beers said if he held his breath in anticipation of council's response "he'd die".

"Some of the councillors turnout for rallies about this sort of behaviour and say how shameful it is, but it's happening in their own backyard," he said.

Council's chief executive officer Roslyn Baker said labour hire workers were used to fill short-term vacancies.

During this calendar year, 36 labour hire workers have been engaged by the council for three-month long stints, including 11 in July to read water meters.

"Their pay rate is a matter for the labour hire company we use and is subject to Fair Work provisions," Ms Baker said.

"But our focus is on entering into commercially viable arrangements with our service providers in the best interests of ratepayers.

"This does not extend to requiring our suppliers provide the same terms and conditions that have been negotiated with our own workforce."

But the union shows no sign of backing down from the battle, declaring it's the council's responsibility to give their workers security.

"The workers came to us and said they're doing the exact same job they were doing before, but now they're getting $10 less an hour," Mr Beers said.

His son, AWU Gladstone-Central district organiser Zac Beers wrote on behalf of the AWU to every councillor, seeking a response to the union's claims.

"Should the AWU not receive a response we will have no choice but to assume that you support the decisions made by your organisation," Mr Beers wrote.

'The fact that Gladstone Regional Council would attack casual workers at a time when our local economy is facing such difficult times is nothing short of disgraceful.

"This type of behaviour is a scourge that workers and communities have been fighting against right across the country, but particularly here in Central Queensland where we have seen a lot of this type of behaviour from employers in mining and manufacturing."



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