The Peel region is bracing for a delay in rubbish bin collection as members of the Transport Workers Union WA prepare for industrial action against the country's largest waste management provider, Cleanaway. The union has raised concerns over proposed changes to working conditions, including the removal of daily overtime and the requirement to work weekends as normal hours. The workers have also rejected pay increases that do not meet inflation.
TWU Branch Secretary Tim Dawson confirmed that the 24-hour strike will go ahead starting at midnight on Wednesday, with workers gathering at Cleanaway’s Malaga and Mandurah sites from about 4 am.
“We held off on industrial action and tried to reach a settlement but it’s clear that there is a national agenda from Cleanaway to blow up the hard-fought and won conditions in the industry,” Mr Dawson said.
He added that the union had attempted to reach an agreement with Cleanaway, but the company was "determined to take away the overtime and weekends" of its workforce.
Cleanaway confirmed that it had received notice that the union would be leading the one-day strike on Wednesday. However, the company expressed doubts over the potential turnout, stating that TWU members make up a minority of its WA workforce, and experience indicates that not all members participate in industrial action when called.
A spokesperson for Cleanaway also said that the remuneration and condition package being offered is very competitive and reflects the needs of the modern workforce, adding that the company respects the rights of its employees and is calling on the union to negotiate productively.
Mr Dawson, however, claimed that Cleanaway had not made any meaningful offers since the strike action was flagged last week and that the company had so far neglected to "come to the table and negotiate in good faith."
The industrial action is expected to affect several local government areas, including the City of Mandurah and Shire of Murray, which have advised residents to put their bins out as normal but expect delays. Cleanaway has confirmed that there will definitely be delays and that they will endeavour to get caught up as soon as possible. Collections will continue as late as the following day, including on Saturday if possible, to ensure all collections are undertaken.
This strike comes after Cleanaway workers across Sydney and Canberra walked off the job last week over stagnant pay, slashed overtime rates, and longer shifts. The strike resulted in tens of thousands of unemptied bins in several local government areas.
While Mr Dawson did not rule out more action in WA, he declined to say what form it may take. Cleanaway, on the other hand, has stated that it will continue to communicate with its workforce and productively engage in progressing the workplace agreements with the aim of settling conditions to set Cleanaway’s diverse workforce up for the future.