Rubbish piles up as garbo strikes spread across country

·2-min read
Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

The stench of uncollected rubbish has returned to Sydney and spread to Victoria as garbos demand state government intervention in their industrial dispute.

About 150 garbage collectors walked off the job on Wednesday demanding that ASX-listed waste contractor Cleanaway raise pay and leave work conditions alone.

It's the sixth time in five months that bin collection in the City of Sydney has been affected by strikes and follows recent action in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.

"Cleanaway is attempting to cut the life out of these essential waste industry workers," Transport Workers Union national assistant secretary Nick McIntosh told reporters on Wednesday.

The one-day action also affects residential services in the Greater Geelong, Surf Coast and Golden Plains council areas and commercial services in Wollongong and Geelong.

The union said councils need to turn the screws on their contracted waste collectors and if they don't, Labor state governments should intervene.

"Tell these councils what they should be doing," Mr McIntosh said.

"Stop the attack on safety, job security, wages and conditions and set the standard to make sure these essential waste industry workers are protected."

In Sydney, garbos want at least another five per cent per year, saying workers are already $4 to $6 per hour behind other Cleanaway workers.

The union's NSW secretary Richard Olsen said the current offer is unacceptable to workers as it adjusts hours of work and other conditions that would send them backwards.

The City of Sydney said it was not involved in the negotiations and hoped the matter would be resolved swiftly "with an outcome that works for all parties".

Bin collections could be delayed by up to 48 hours this week, it said.

Cleanaway served clients every day of the week and its agreements reflected the needs of both workers and requirements to service clients, a company spokesman said.

The company acknowledged some employees did not want the agreement to include the possibility that working hours could vary.

"This is their right and varying work hours would not happen without consultation," the spokesman said.

A large number of its sites had voted in favour of workplace conditions that increased work flexibility.

"Cleanaway has presented its employees with a very competitive remuneration and condition offer, while supporting a move to a more dynamic and flexible work model," he said.

"Cleanaway's goal is to institute an agreement that would best support its modern and diverse workforce and varied customer base."