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Staff at Werribee Cemetery have cancelled planned strike action for this Friday,

The protected strike action, which would have seen about 90 grave diggers and other staff from cemeteries run by the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) walk off the job tomorrow, was cancelled today after cemetery management and the Australian Workers Union came to an in principle agreement on EBA negotiations.

The Star Weekly had reported about 90 grave diggers and other staff from cemeteries run by the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT) will go on strike this Friday, after enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations stalled.

Australian Workers Union Victorian branch secretary Ben Davies said the union had been negotiating with the GMCT over the EBA for the past 15 months, but that talks had reached a stalemate.

Mr Davies said among the EBA issues, cemetery administration staff were paid much less than outdoor workers.

“We think that’s in part because they’re largely a female workforce, so there’s an equity issue going on there.

“[Striking] is not something they do easily, or comfortably … they feel they have no choice.

“Our members are frustrated by the lack of progress, given that they can’t get back-pay under the state government pay policy, so they’ve opted for a one-day strike on Friday.”

The union and management held crisis talks this morning in a bid to stop the strike action, but could not come to a resolution.

A spokeswoman from the GMCT stressed that it would honour any existing funeral bookings on the day and would not cancel any services.

“We’ve tried as much to reduce taking bookings on Friday, but any bookings that we already had scheduled will go ahead as normal, and I think that’s about 25 to 30 services across our sites,” she said.

Read the update here.