Council workers protected
A UNION request to the Clarence Valley Council to safeguard the basic work rights of council employees received a majority backing from councillors yesterday.
Council committed to the Employer Charter for the time remaining under current enterprise agreements after the United Services Union, acting on behalf of council employees, requested council declare its position on the Howard Government's controversial workplace reforms.
The four-point charter meant council would not support Federal Government plans that remove an employee's basic rights to work, that it would not use federal laws to reduce wages and that it would avoid forcing employees to sign individual contracts.
Unions would also continue to have access to employees at their workplace, a practice the Howard Government is seeking to curb with its new legislation.
Incoming councillors may have pledged to leave their political alle- giances at the chamber door once elected, but the IR issue clearly divided councillors along those old lines.
Cr Gulaptis said he would support the charter if the two points endorsing council's right to ignore federal workplace laws were removed.
He felt council need not step into the political arena with such a brazen charter.
Cr Lloyd added his name to the list of dissenters, saying that, as an employer, he believed the proposed abolition of the current unfair dismissal system was a good thing.
Cr Flanagan, his affiliations with Country Labor known to most, declined an opportunity to politicise the debate even further.
Proudly claiming his independence of the party machine, Cr Doug McKenzie said council employees needed to know their jobs would be safe, particularly amid the uncertainty of job security caused by re- cent council amalgamations.