SWIMMERS' safety heads a list of concerns for Newcastle City Council workers as they passed a vote of no confidence in caretaker general manager Ken Gouldthorp.
About 300 Newcastle council workers, including about a dozen lifeguards, held a stop-work meeting last Thursday in Civic Park.
The meeting coincided with with interviews being held in the council chamber for a new general manager.
Budget cuts have left most Newcastle beaches unpatrolled, despite temperatures regularly hitting the mid-20s over the past few weeks.
Bar Beach, Nobbys and Newcastle Ocean Baths are manned year-round, but swimmers have been left to fend for themselves at Newcastle Beach, Stockton Beach, Dixon Park Beach, Merewether Beach and Merewether Baths.
In two separate incidents, two teenage girls and a teenage boy were rescued by two off-duty lifesavers who just happened to be at Newcastle beach.
Workers raised 13 points at the meeting, with four of them relating to the working conditions for the lifeguards, including season starting times, employment conditions and maternity leave.
United Services Union spokesperson Noel Martin said staff were frustrated with the council after trying to negotiate with Mr Gouldthorp without success.
And the council had shown "complete disrespect" to the Industrial Relations Commission by ignoring its recommendations to provide job security for lifeguards.
In a statement to the media, Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy said he valued a working relationship with the union as the city moved forward.
"The interim general manager and myself are happy to meet with union delegates at any time for mutual agreement," he said.
No new major issues were raised at last week's union meeting, he said.
The council had previously written to the union and needed to be briefed on a couple of minor new points.
Council staff plan to meet again tomorrow for an update on the council's position.