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Dozens of workers quit amid deadlock on City of Melbourne pay deal

Dozens of staff have resigned from the City of Melbourne in recent months amid rising anger at stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations and redundancies.

Negotiations on the EBA broke down last week and the council’s leaders referred the industrial dispute to the Fair Work Commission, underscoring the souring relationship between staff and leadership.

Council staff including childcare educators, librarians and administrative workers have gone without a pay rise for nearly three years, and negotiations have broken down largely over management’s refusal to give backpay for the past two years.

Chief executive Justin Hanney said there was broad agreement between the parties but management had referred the negotiations to Fair Work “to help us resolve an offer more swiftly”.

“We want to create an agreement that recognises the great work of our people, while ensuring we respond appropriately to the financial challenges COVID-19 has presented to our city,” he said.

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Australian Services Union secretary Lisa Darmanin said union members had put planned industrial action on hold in good faith while negotiations were under way, but she hinted members’ patience was running out.

“ASU members have taken the first step towards protected industrial action, as part of the ‘Un-Capp our Wages’ campaign,” she said.

“We put this campaign on hold to give the City of Melbourne a chance to put a fair wage offer where wages keep pace with cost of living. City of Melbourne can avoid potentially disruptive industrial action by putting a fair offer on the table.”

The previous workplace agreement expired on June 30, 2019.

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