Workers ready for walkout

THE stage is set for Latrobe Valley’s first power station walkout in recent history, as more than 100 Loy Yang B employees prepare for a station wide 24-hour stop-work, due to commence early tomorrow morning.

Station operator GDF-Suez has expressed “extreme disappointment” over the planned walk-out, which has been triggered by a clause in a newly negotiated enterprise agreement for 140 station employees, which it said would give workers the “power of veto” in any future organisational changes.

“We are obviously prepared to consult our workforce and unions on possible future workplace changes but it would be an abrogation of our management responsibility if we were to agree that unions had the power to decide how we organise and run our business,” Loy Yang B head of operations and generation Steve Rieniets said.

However Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union head negotiator Greg Hardy said it was “mischievous” for Mr Rieniets to lable the clause as a ‘veto power’, adding Loy Yang A employees had the same clause enshrined in their current EA.

“It is a very significant negotiations have come to this; we are talking about a workforce that hasn’t taken industrial action in 20 years, and to completely walk out – I don’t recall that happening in my history of negotiations in the Valley,” Mr Hardy said.

While he acknowledged the planned action could yet be de-railed through legal avenues before tomorrow, Mr Hardy said both sides were so entrenched in their positions over the clause that neither side would waiver voluntarily.