In the lead up to Christmas Hobsons Bay City Council is threatening to lockout workers for taking protected industrial action, an almost unprecedented move by a Victorian Council.

As part of the long-running negotiations over the next enterprise agreement, members of the Australian Services Union are pushing for a far pay rise, retention of leave entitlements, and a respectful workplace.

In response to union members’ planned industrial action, including bans on seaweed collection and chipping of fallen branches, except where there is risk to public health or safety, CEO Aaron van Egmond has threatened staff with “indefinite lockouts without pay”.

Members of the Australian Services Union have attempted to reach an outcome with Hobsons Bay for over 9 months, but negotiations have been fruitless.

According to the union, Mr van Egmond and his executive management team have been unwilling to attend a single bargaining meeting, instead sending council officers who do not have authority to reach an agreement.

Australian Services Union branch secretary Lisa Darmanin said Hobsons Bay CEO Aaron van Egmond has shown little respect for workers at Council; an attitude underscored by the threatened lockouts.

“The Australian Services Union negotiates enterprise agreements with every single local council in Victoria and the only one who threatens to lockout workers is Hobsons Bay.”

“CEO Aaron van Egmond has been unwilling to directly negotiate with staff and their union, but he is willing to threaten the livelihoods of hundreds of workers and their families just weeks before Christmas.”

“Hobsons Bay City Council has applied to the Fair Work Commission to mediate the negotiations without ever seriously considering the workers’ position, making a satisfactory offer or putting forward a compromise.”

Ms Darmanin said widely known cultural problems at Hobsons Bay will only be exacerbated by the aggressive industrial posturing of Mr van Egmond and his executive management team.

“Hobsons Bay management is showing they have no concern for the wellbeing of hardworking council staff who are just exercising their legally protected industrial rights,” Ms Darmanin said.

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