In April, the USU was made aware of plans proposed by Mayor Ned Mannoun to slash 150 jobs, causing distress among workers. Our members rallied and attended the council meeting on April 24. During the meeting, the mayor attempted to terminate the employment of CEO John Ajaka. When USU officials and members tried to stay in the council meeting to support USU member Mr Ajaka, the mayor called the police.

Following a two-hour closed session, the council voted to suspend Mr. Ajaka pending an investigation.

The mayor labelled USU members as racist and lazy through media and social media, creating an unsafe work environment. As a result, our members faced multiple attacks and had to halt work for safety reasons on two occasions, each lasting over 24 hours. In response, the council agreed to enhance safety by deploying security guards and having no worker alone in public.

To date, the mayor has refused to apologise to our members or remove the offending posts from social media. The acting CEO, after discussions in the IRC, finally committed to staff in writing that it is not his “intention to implement any restructuring measures prior to the local government elections in September 2024”.  However, concerns linger as it was also not the intention of CEO John Ajaka to slash roles but a directive from the mayor.

With elections approaching, the risk of job losses is still present. It is a fact that in the last 8 years Liverpool Council has had 11 CEOs, so no job is safe!

Additionally, the Office of Local Government is investigating various issues at the council, including employment practices, conflicts of interest, finances, safety, and the construction of the new administration building. Concurrently, concerns of USU members have been raised with SafeWork NSW.

Members are also concerned about industrial harmony as recent weeks have seen a surge in industrial actions such as work stoppages and bans. Issues brought to the IRC include potential wage theft, workplace surveillance plans, and inadequate safety practices.

In this challenging time, the USU stands behind its members, offering unwavering support and solidarity.