KNOX Council staff have not ruled out industrial action as negotiations over a pay rise come to a head.
The Australian Service Union has labelled an offer of a 1.4 per cent pay rise as unacceptable, saying the offer equates to $9 a week. Other Victorian councils have offered $40-$50 increases.
‘‘We would be kidding ourselves and our members if we believe that they would be happy with a pay rise nearly four times lower than the real cost of living,’’ ASU organiser Dave Beckley said.
Mr Beckley said the offer was 1.1 per cent lower than what the state government was offering public sector workers.
However Knox chief executive Graeme Emonson said talks were continuing and the negotiating team had not discussed the pay offer yet.
He said an EBA was a ‘‘package of entitlements with a whole range of terms and conditions’’ and the pay rise should be ‘‘aligned with the cost of living’’.
The present EBA, which covers all employees at Knox Council except executive officers, expires on July 30. If agreement isn’t reached by then, the EBA will roll over until negotiations conclude.
The ASU called a $500 sign-on bonus for employees a bribe and said it was an ‘‘unusual’’ offer by the council.
Mr Emonson told the Weekly the bonus had been on the table from the outset of negotiations, if the employees voted ‘‘positively’’ by the end of July.
The union also claimed the council had not replied to employees’ requests for paid meetings with members to discussion the negotiations.
‘‘The council say meetings must be held outside work hours, but is an impossibility,’’ Mr Beckley said.
Mr Emonson said paid union meetings were available and supported by the council, but it was not an ‘‘open-ended arrangement’’.
He was unable to confirm whether the council had received requests for meetings during work hours from the union.
The council and the unions last entered EBA negotiations three years ago, which culminated in industrial action, with workers striking outside the Knox Civic Centre.
‘‘We’re hoping it doesn’t lead to that this time,’’ Mr Beckley said.
Further negotiations were taking place today.