City of Melbourne garbage collectors strike over wage dispute

Some of Melbourne’s busiest streets could be teeming with rubbish by Friday as garbage collectors are told to leave the area.

Municipal and Utilities Workers Union (MUWU) have instructed their members not to collect waste in central Melbourne until employer Citywide commits to the union’s proposed pay increase.

The union is demanding a $50 increase in workers’ weekly wages and a $20 payment to protect them from future pandemics.

Union spokesman Brian Parkinson said the strike would last until Citywide management committed to negotiations, saying they were walking away from a scheduled meeting scheduled for Friday.

“They haven’t given us any other option,” he said.

Citywide, which said it had not yet received the union’s demands, claimed only a small number of workers had joined the strike on Thursday.

The local government-funded service said workers who had decided to strike would not be protected because the MUWU is an “unofficial, unregistered union”.

“Such class action would be illegal and could be stopped by an order from the Fair Work Commission,” a statement released Wednesday.

Citywide has proposed a 3 percent pay increase and a one-time payment of $350 for employees, as well as extending their corporate agreement through June 30, 2023.

The proposal is backed by the Australian Services Union (ASU), which has been a party to the negotiations, and will be voted on by workers.

“Employees will soon have the opportunity to vote for or against that proposal,” the ASU said in a statement.

“The Australian Services Union has consulted with its members and supports the proposal.”

MUWU president Jennifer Marriott, who rejected the proposal, has warned Melburnians that the strike could last for days.

“The strike will last as long as it takes for Citywide to understand that we just want to talk to them and negotiate their employees’ EBA,” she said.

The action means workers will not go near Spring, Flinders, Spencer or Victoria streets.

Emptying bins, trash cans, curbing and asphalt cleaning are all services affected by the move.

Originally published as garbage begins to pile up in Melbourne as garbage collectors go on strike

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