Cardinia offers pay rise as workers face cost-of-living pressures

Cardinia Shire Council is current negotiating a new enterprise agreement. (File: 245295)

By Corey Everitt

The council is facing ‘extreme pressure’ to keep their employees happy with a pay rise in the ongoing discussions for a new enterprise agreement.

This week the members of the Australia Services Union (ASU) will meet to discuss their response to an offer of a 3 percent pay rise each year for the next three years – it would see an extra $40 per week in the pocket of council workers each year.

If agreed to, all depot maintenance staff will gain a maintenance allowance which would see an increase for some at $39.47 per week.

A spokesperson for the ASU said the union is demanding the cost-of-living crisis to be central in this new agreement.

“The cost of living is adversely affecting lower-paid workers most as inflation is continuing to rise,” the spokesperson said.

“The ASU will hold meetings with its members in Cardinia Shire next week and plan their response.

“The ASU thinks council management can do better.”

In the current agreement, council staff received only a 1.5 percent increase in pay each year.

This latest offer, if successful, would exceed the rate cap. The council said they are under ‘extreme pressure’ to do so.

In the council’s recent submission to the State Government’s Inquiry into Local Government funding and services, it’s revealed that Cardinia is in the ‘lower range’ of wages in the municipal service.

However, employment costs represent 34 percent of major expenses by the council contributing to a strenuous financial position described as ‘managed decline’.

Though even if the council wished to simply slash and burn wages and conditions, it faces concerns of retention in a competitive Local Government job market.

The council has a turnover rate of 17.3 percent which they said is ‘consistent with the industry benchmark’. Of those turnovers, 28.7 percent left the council ‘to seek better remuneration’.

Furthermore, insurance costs for Workcover went up by 30 percent for the council.

Cardinia Shire Council was contacted for comment.