Hundreds of Canberra’s lowest-paid workers will on Thursday hold a major protest against the ACT Government’s latest wage offer.
CFMEU ACT and United Workers Union general services officer members will march from Glebe Park at 12pm arriving at the ACT Legislative Assembly at 12.30pm to send a clear message to the Government that paying many staff annual salaries of just $50,925 is unacceptable.
The major stopwork rally is an escalation of the campaign from GSOs, and related BSOs and CSOs, for a restructure of classifications so all workers will be paid at least $61,000.
ACT construction workers will walk off the job to join the protest, which is expected to be one of Canberra’s biggest blue-collar rallies in many years.
“Without the hard work of these men and women, Canberra would fall apart,” said CFMEU ACT Secretary Zach Smith.
“These workers mow hundreds of kilometres of public grass in blazing summer heat, clean disgusting public toilets and work on the side of the road when the temperature is well below freezing.
“We are making progress in our negotiations with the Government but the crucial sticking point remains a restructure of classifications.
“Fixing the classification system is the only way to ensure these vital workers, who have become the working poor of Canberra, make enough money to stop sleeping in their cars.
“More severe industrial action would spell chaos for the city. We’re confident the Government will do the right thing and ensure some of their most crucial workers get a fair deal.”
General service officers are the ACT equivalent of council workers performing roles across Canberra’s public spaces including cleaning (including public toilets), gardening, and a variety of trades and technical roles.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable for workers to be paid less than $51,000 a year while trying to live in Canberra, where the already high cost of living is now skyrocketing,” said United Workers Union spokesperson Erryn Cresshull.
“Any government, let alone a Labor administration, should not pay people poverty wages to do some of the most crucial tasks the ACT needs to function.
“School Cleaners and Building Services Officers kept our kids safe during the pandemic, they are essential workers who deserve better.
“We need a fair go for GSOs.”