Freeloaders get a free lunch too at Hurstville

Victor Lampe delivers pizzasEmployees are entitled to join a union or not to join a union. In the olden days in local government and other areas there used to be a preference of employment clause for union members that provided, all other things being equal, if two candidates were applying for a job, then the union member got the job. This reflected the preference at the time for employers to deal with registered organisations of employees.

The Preference of Employment clauses were deleted from the Local Government Awards more than a decade and a half ago and now whether an employee joins the union or not, is purely a voluntary decision. We can't make people, we can only encourage them. That keeps us on our toes, working hard and telling people what we do.

Sometimes encouraging people to be a member isn't easy. After all, whether employees are union members or not, they get the benefits that result from negotiation by the unions of the Awards or Enterprise Agreements, the benefits of the precedents set in industrial disputes like our recent dispute at Wagga Wagga, pay increases and progression under the provisions required in salary system etc etc.

Every benefit inserted in the Award when negotiated between the LGSA and the unions flows through to everyone - whether they contribute through fees to the appropriate union or not. Sometimes there is no limit to how much the freeloaders are prepared to accept.

 

Something that has assisted in encouraging employees to be a member of the local government unions is the provision in the Local Government (State) Award that Union Picnic Day is only a public holiday for financial members of the unions. While some councils have extended this benefit to the freeloaders by determining that everyone can have the day off regardless of whether they are a member or not, some other councils insist that it remain a condition of employment only for those who qualify under the terms of the Award.

It was Union Picnic Day in the metropolitan area of Sydney last Friday and Hurstville Council decided that it wouldn't extend the entitlement to union members to employees who had chosen not to join a union. This probably reflected the fundamental Labor flavour of the councillors.

But General Manager Victor Lampe thought that those employees who did work on Picnic Day, because they had elected not to be a union member, should nevertheless get something to make the day more pleasant and special- so he organised the delivery of pizzas to 8 different workplaces in the municipality as a reward. What a generous bloke!

But many employees who are union members and did have the day off are wondering when they get their lunch courtesy of the GM. They are also wondering who paid. Did the GM out of his own pocket or did the Council? And is the Council happy to discriminate in the provision of lunch against union members?

We wrote to Mr Lampe wondering whether he had thought through his decision to reward those employees by this unprecedented action. Was it a cynical exercise of sucking up to an incoming NSW Government without the philosophical commitment of the current Government to the trade union movement? Was it a thumbing of his nose to those employees who do choose to be union members? Was it a sign that he thought he needed to provide some special treatment for this group of employees, which he chose not to provide for the remainder?

Watch this space for his response.

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