Strike action abandoned

A planned 24-hour stop work at Loy Yang B was abandoned at the last minute after unions and GDF-Suez came to an agreement in the Fair Work Commission.

Late Thursday the parties agreed on the wording of a clause in an enterprise agreement, relating to the company’s consultation with workers on future changes.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union head negotiator Greg Hardy said the workforce was successful in retaining a clause which would require GDF-Suez to confer with workers and obtain their agreement over any major changes including staffing levels and organisational structure.

“Members are extremely happy with the result and proud of their achievement,” Mr Hardy said.

The compromise came just hours before Friday’s proposed stoppage, involving 100 employees, was due to start.

“It was very unfortunate that the unions had felt the need to impose work bans and threaten a 24-hour stoppage,” Loy Yang B head of operations and generation Steve Rieniets said.

“However, our company was not prepared to accept union demands that would have effectively reduced our management decision-making prerogative.

“Fortunately, common sense prevailed and we have now agreed on new wording on consultation that is acceptable to both parties. As a result, the threat of a 24-hour stoppage and all other bans have been removed and will now be able to finalise the enterprise agreement that will deliver significant benefits to our employees.”

Enterprise bargaining negotiations have been underway since July last year and a walk-out would have been the first in the Latrobe Valley power industry’s recent history.