Antonio rejected as region's representative

CLASH: Elected members clashed over a call for a 12-month pay freeze for Whyalla City Council workers.

CLASH: Elected members clashed over a call for a 12-month pay freeze for Whyalla City Council workers.

Former acting mayor Cr Tom Antonio had mixed fortunes at the latest Whyalla City Council meeting.

He failed to win backing for a 12-month wage freeze for council workers and was rejected for a position as Upper Spencer Gulf representative to the Local Government Association Board.

The meeting was punctuated by a series of divisions in which councillors’ votes on various issues were formally recorded and members asked to stand to declare their intentions.

At one stage, Cr Antonio elicited a response from the acting chief executive officer that council was unaware of any leaks of confidential information relating to an unsuccessful bid for a solar farm at Whyalla.

He clashed with Cr Tim Breuer after suggesting the council should take the lead in times of economic uncertainty linked to the troubled Arrium steelworks.

Cr Antonio said that under an enterprise agreement, the council would pay a 3.4 percent increase to its workers.

In view of the economic crisis and council’s recent rate rise, he suggested pay be frozen for 12 months.

Cr Breuer said the council should abide by the enterprise agreement and not “punish” the workers and they should not have to bear a burden just “for the sake of bearing a burden”.

Cr Antonio responded that he had not spoken of punishing the workers and it was irresponsible to suggest he had.

Council’s acting chief executive officer, Migelle Hiscock, said the union involved had indicated its “angst and concern with elected members getting involved in pay issues of the staff”.

She told Cr Antonio that from a management viewpoint, “we have raised those issues with you”.

Later, the council held a secret ballot to determine who it should back for the position of LGA Board representative for the Upper Spencer Gulf – Cr Antonio or Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson.

Cr Antonio vacated his chair during the vote in which a majority of councillors endorsed Mr Johnson for the role.

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