LGRCEU HISTORY OF THE UNION
1. A union known as the SANITARY LABOURERS AND SCAVENGERS UNION OF WORKERS PERTH EASTERN GOLDFIELDS was registered under the Western Australian Industrial Arbitration Act on the 7th of June 1902.
2. A union known as the SANITARY LABOURERS AND SCAVENGERS UNION OF WORKERS EASTERN GOLDFIELDS was registered under the Western Australian Industrial Arbitration Act on the 11th of June 1903
3. In 1904 after the Commonwealth of Australia legislated into existence the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act using the Industrial Relations powers of the Commonwealth Constitution (Section 51 part xxxv).
Waiting to buy water in the Goldfields in the 1900's
4. On the 7th of January 1910 a union was registered under the Western Australian Industrial Arbitration Act by the name of THE FREMANTLE AND DISTRICTS MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES UNION OF WORKERS.
5. On the 8th of October 1910 a union was registered as THE METROPOLITAN MUNICIPAL COUNCILS EMPLOYEES UNION OF WORKERS, this was the prime forerunner of the union as it is today.
6. On the 27th of July 1913 the Metropolitan Union moved to alter its rules to absorb the Fremantle Union. At that time the forerunner of the Transport Workers Union (T.W.U.), the METROPOLITAN HORSE DRIVERS UNION lodged an objection with the then Western Australian Industrial Arbitration Commission, this was rejected. The union amalgamation took effect from the 13th of August 1914. The Eastern Goldfields Union continued as a separate entity.
7. The reasons for the original separate emergence of unions in the industry was due primarily to the manner in which the Western Australian economy developed.
8. In the late 19th century and early twentieth century Kalgoorlie and surrounding regions were a primary driver in the Western Colonial economy due to the discovery of gold which brought in a rapid influx of workers from the Eastern Seaboard, Asia and Europe.
9. This led to significant infrastructure development led by C.Y. O’Connor including the building of the Perth to Kalgoorlie Water Pipeline and the establishment of the Fremantle Port. Thus the labour unions were able to form and establish strong local LABOUR COUNCILS which sadly are now defunct and have been absorbed into what is now known as “Unions WA”.
10. On the 22nd of April 1915 the union changed its name to the COASTAL MUNICIPAL AND ROAD BOARDS EMPLOYEES UNION OF WORKERS.
Construction of the Perth to Kalgoorlie Water pipeline in the 1910's
11. On the 15th of August 1927 the union change its name to the MUNICIPAL, ROAD BOARDS, PARKS AND RACECOURSE UNION OF WORKERS.
12. On the 13th of January 1928 the union constitution was significantly expanded to include any workers employed directly by Municipal Council, City Councils, and Health Boards, Road Boards, Governing Boards of any Parks, Reserves or Racecourses but excluding Staff Officers and Clerical workers of any of the above mentioned bodies. This established a clear separation from the Clerical and Administrative staff of all of the above bodies.
13. Not surprisingly in the 1930s the Local Governing Bodies Officers Association (now known as the Australian Services Union or A.S.U.) formed to represent clerical and administrative workers in local government in Western Australia. Due to objections from another forerunner of the TWU known as the Amalgamated Road Transport Union of Workers, employees not directly employed by the various employer bodies mentioned in 12. above, were entitled to continue membership though rules exclusions.
14. A fact not widely known today was that in the period up until 1981 union membership was essentially compulsory though clause written into awards negotiated by the union. Therefore, the rights to coverage of workers through union rules was critical to the unions and was hotly contested as the economy developed and opportunities grew.
15. During the 1940s the union was very active in developing significant industrial award coverage for its members which led to the formation of awards protecting; hours of work, leave entitlements, public holidays, establishing allowance for skills, disabilities of work and reimbursement of work costs, overtime penalties for unsocial hours and rights
of union members.
16. The awards created operating distinctly in the following areas;
SOUTH WEST DISTRICTS
REST OF STATE
In addition, awards were created for all the Racing and Trotting Clubs, known as the Sporting Ground Western Australia Award.
Perth in the 1940's
17. In 1953 the union’s rules were amended in the constitutional coverage area to include Cemetery Boards. Not surprisingly and award was also created in that year to cover Cemetery Workers.
18. Throughout this period the Eastern Goldfields union remained independent of the state union.
19. Although not identified during the period after World War Two the name that is the current name was established and registered as the WESTERN AUSTRALIAN MUNICIPAL ROAD BOARDS, PARKS AND RACECOURSE EMPLOYEES UNION OF WORKERS. The cemeteries name never went into the state name for reasons not known.
20. In 1964 the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council (now known as Unions W.A.) was formed to help promote the interests of all W.A. unions affiliated with it.
21. In the late 1960s the union negotiated further awards covering;
ROTTNEST ISLAND BOARD
ROYAL AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF WA
THE UNIVERSITY OF WA
THE ZOOLOGICAL GARDENS BOARD OF WA.
Later on what is now known as Curtin University and Murdoch University were also covered.
22. On the 30th of July 1970 the Eastern Goldfields Union was finally absorbed into the state union.
23. In 1974 as a result of agitation by unions annual leave entitlements were extended from 3 weeks per annum to 4 weeks per annum and leave loading of 17.5% was introduced into awards.
24. In 1975 a Trade Union Training Authority was established to create training facility for union official and job delegates.
25. In 1976 the union was successful in establishing a new allowance for the
various disabilities suffered by Council workers working on the roads and in rubbish collection and in parks areas in part known as the INDUSTRY ALLOWANCE. This allowance is still in the award today and was expanded over time to cover most area of work except employees working in and around council depots.
26. In the late 1970s the union decided to seek federal registration through the
formation of the FEDERATED MUNICIPAL AND SHIRE COUNCILS EMPLOYEES UNION OF AUSTRALIA. A Western Australian Division was created out of the
the same membership covered by the Western Australian Municipal Road Boards,
Parks and Racecourse Employees Union. The union at this time was commonly known as the MEU or Municipal Employees Union.
27. In 1977 the WA state Government amended the Local Government Act to create a set of regulations setting out Long Service Leave Entitlements for all workers in Local Government in W.A.
28. In late 1978 the Federal Union served an Australia wide log of claims for the creation of federal awards to cover membership. During the dispute over coverage the union lost coverage of the WA Universities to the Miscellaneous Union.
29. In 1980 the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission created a set of allowances for remote and rural workers known as Location Allowances using a formula based on Climate, Isolation and Cost of Living. These allowances were quickly incorporated into the union’s awards and still exist today.
30. In 1982 the Federal union won its battle to establish Federal Awards in Local Government in WA and also in the Cemeteries Industry. The first awards created was the MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) AWARD 1982and the CEMETERY BOARDS (WESTERN AUSTRLIA) AWARD 1982.
31. In 1983 the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted claims initiated by the union for the reduction of ordinary working hours from 40 to 38 per week despite strong resistance from employers Australia wide.
32. This major reform in working hours came a year after general wages increases in all awards were in the order of 15-18% for the year ending 1982. At that time award wages and allowances were adjusted every calendar quarter to reflect CPI movements (excepting when CPI was negative).
33. The flow on of the 38 hour week was to be done industry by industry, award by award. The Commission also required that there be measurable offsets to the reduction in hours and the agreement to change award would include these offsets as memoranda between employers and unions.
In Local Government in WA the main offsets identified were the abolition of;
WASH UP TIME
RETURN TO THE WORKS DPEOT FOR MORNING SMOKO AND LUNCH
34. Despite these generous concessions the Perth City Council went after more and threatened other conditions in exchange for the 38 hour week. This resulted in a SIX WEEK STRIKE IN WHICH ALL 600 CITY OF PERTH WORKERS WERE SACKED BY THE COUNCIL. DURING THIS TIME THE UNION MAINTAINED A PICKET ON ALL PERTH CITY COUNCIL DEPOTS, UNIONISTS WERE ARRESTED, THREATENED AND BULLIED. THE UNION MAINTAINED A CONTINUOUS KITCHEN AT CHARLES STREET TO SUPPORT WORKERS.
Eventually the workers won and were all reinstated and the 38 hour week came in. One of the saddest aspects of this dispute was the crossing of picket lines by Clerical and Administrative Staff, the spying on workers and the encouragement to non
union workers to take union workers jobs by the Council.
The victory won the union and workers led to the introduction of the 38 hour week and the rights to rostered days off through 19 day months or 9 day fortnights throughout the state.
35. In 1984 the Federal Union established an award known as the Sporting Grounds (Western Australia) Award 1984.
36. In 1985 the Federal Union was established and award known as the Kings Park Board and Rottnest Island Board Award 1985.
37. In 1987 the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission introduced enterprise bargaining in a primitive form that set out the ability for unions to gain for workers 4% increases above standard National Wage Case Increases in return for negotiating memorandums of agreement with employers for further workplace efficiencies.
38. In 1988 the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 was replaced by the Australian Industrial Relations Act 1988 and the Commission’s name was changed to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.
The unions lodged claims in that year for compulsory employer contributions to Superannuation of 3%. These were established in all of this union’s awards by 1992. Initially this union and its members resisted the claim arguing that the 3% would have be better used as a general wage increase instead of going into the hand of outsiders.
39. In 1991 the Australian Industrial Relations Commission handed down wage fixing principles embedding changes to awards to reduce classifications in awards and consolidating many skill and work related allowances into the base award rates. This process took 3 years to complete in the period 1992-1995.
40. This union argued with the Industry until November 1992 when at a stop work meeting at the PERTH CONCERT HALL 1,200 members voted to accept a new award structure that is still in place today.
41. In 1992-1993 the Keating Labor Government further amended the Australian Industrial Relations Act to facilitate the amalgamation of unions. The then secretary of the ACTU, Bill Kelty, addressed delegates of the Federated Municipal Shire Council Employees Union at the Albury Wodonga Facility of the Australian Trade Union Training Authority in September 1992. He strongly advocated the dissolution of the union by way of amalgamation with the MUNICIPAL OFFICERS ASSOCIATION, and the FEDERATED CLERKS UNION. The only vocal opponents of the proposition were the Western Australian Delegates of this Union.
42. In 1992 members at the Western Australian Turf Club successfully established an award and removed themselves from the Sporting Grounds Award. This award was known
as the Western Australian Turf Club Award 1992. Similarly members at the City of Perth established a separate award from the Municipal Employees Western Australia Award known as the Municipal Employees City of Perth Award 1992. With the subsequent legislated break-up of Perth City Council by the State Government in 1993 this award was later extended to the Towns of Cambridge, Vincent and Victoria Park.
43. On the 1st of July 1993 after an Australia wide ballot of members of the three unions the Federated Municipal and Shire Councils Employees Union of Australia and the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, were dissolved and amalgamated into a new union known as the AUSTRALIAN MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATIVE CLERICAL AND SERVICES UNION or more commonly the ASU.
44. This union became federally a branch of that union known as the LOCAL GOVERNMENT, COMMUNITY SERVICES, PUBLIC AUTHORITIES AND RACING (MEU) WA BRANCH.
As part of that process the branch secured autonomy to run its financial and industrial relation affairs, secured assets and the State Union was not included in the amalgamation.
45. In 1996 the Howard government replaced the Industrial Relations Act 1988 with the Workplace Relations Act 1996 significantly reducing union rights, abolishing
the Trade Union Training Authority and providing for the use of individual workplace contracts.
46. On the 31st of December 1999 this union and its members lodged an application to break away from the ASU and create a new federally registered union.
47. During 1990’s the union’s awards underwent further changes to include family leave, parental leave, annual leave and sick leave entitlements. For the first time, portability of sick leave was introduced for LRCEU members in the Local Government sector. Additionally, the union secured in the Local Government Industry the right to an additional week’s annual leave for employees employed by councils that were above the 26th parallel.
48. Between 1999 and 2002 the awards were further consolidated and amended by review of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. This resulted in the current set of awards maintained by the union known as follows:
MUNCIPAL EMPLOYEES (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) AWARD 1999 MUNCIPAL EMPLOYEES CITY OF PERTH AWARD 2000
MUNCIPAL EMPLOYEES (SPORTING GROUNDS – WESTERN AUSTRALIA) AWARD 2000
MUNICIPAL EMPLPOYEES (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) TURF CLUB AWARD 2000 BOTANIC GARDENS AUTHORITY AWARD 2003
MUNCIPAL EMPLOYEES ROTTNEST ISLAND AUTHORITY AWARD 2002 CEMETERY BOARDS WESTERN AUSTRLIA AWARD 2003
LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS AWARD 2002
49. On the 19th of November 2002 the union, after winning a ballot to disamalgamate, was registered as the WESTERN AUSTRALIAN MUNICIPAL ROAD BOARDS, HEALTH BOARDS, PARKS, CEMETERIES AND RACECOURSE, PUBLIC AUTHORITIES WATER BOARDS UNION.
50. In 2005 the Howard government introduced further legislation significantly changing Industrial relations laws aimed at consolidating employer power. This union continues to fight to preserve entitlements and improve conditions based on achievements since 1903.
Not one condition in awards or agreements negotiated has freely been given to members without organised representation and negotiation by union members. Statistical information shows that union negotiated agreements consistently deliver better wages and conditions and outcome than those agreements where union are not involved.
Union Protests in Perth 2006
51. On the 1st of July 2009 the Fair Work Act 2009 came into force abolishing and replacing significant elements of the 2005 legislation. One of the significant changes was the formation of Industry Awards which are National in character and replaced the existing federal award structure on 1 January 2010. This legislation enabled freer bargaining processes than previous legislation and in particular assisted low paid employees who did not have a collective agreement to more easily pursue that type of arrangement.
The new commission was also given powers to direct employers to bargain with employer to bargain with employees where those employers consistently refuse to bargain with their employees on a collective basis.
These Good Faith bargaining powers have created greater opportunities for workers to collectively bargain effectively. The coming years will provide many challenges to union and employees.
WE WELCOME THOSE CHALLENGES