It would have been clear to most members that today’s Special General Meeting was looming as a stop work meeting. After months of failed negotiations, broken promises and long-overdue deadlines, the Union’s State Committee officials and rank and file members had understandably had enough.
On Tuesday the State Committee resolved to forward new proposals directly to the Government yesterday which, if accepted, would allow negotiations to continue. However, if the Union’s proposals were rejected then our recommendation to this morning’s SGM was to be to convert the meeting to a stop-work meeting of all D Platoon members in order to consider and vote upon bans and/or further strike action.
Direct negotiations between Union and Government representatives began midday yesterday. Despite considerable progress being made in both the Award negotiations and the D&D dispute, the call for a stop-work meeting today appeared almost certain as late as 7pm yesterday.
With no sign of a satisfactory breakthrough, Union Sub-Branch meetings in Newcastle and Wollongong last night voted overwhelmingly to commence a new campaign of industrial bans and stop work action from 6pm tonight. At the same time, discussions continued between the Union and Government and a common understanding was finally reached by mid evening. The State Committee met again this morning and resolved to recommend to the members that negotiations should continue and that bans or stop work action should not yet be imposed in view of the progress made yesterday and the expectation of settlement of both the permanent and retained Awards by month’s end.
A full report on the state of negotiations over both the Awards and the D&D Dispute was presented to the meeting, and I could not do justice to that report in a one page summary here. Suffice to say that the members present at today’s meeting supported the State Committee’s call for continued negotiations with the Government provided a concrete agreement is reached on our Award claims by March 31, and that real progress on D&D has also been made by that time.
More progress was made on Wednesday afternoon then we’d managed over the previous three months. Further updates on both the Awards and D&D will follow shortly, and another SGM will be held on or before 31 March. Today’s meeting made this clear: our patience won’t last past that date.
Thursday 9th March, 2000