Power station to bypass union

EnergyAustralia will bypass the power industry’s chief union and take an enterprise bargaining agreement offer directly to workers in a bid to break industrial deadlock.

Voting for the offer will open between 2 May and 16 May, which includes a six per cent pay rise up front from 1 May, and 25 per cent over four years.

However Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union lead negotiator Greg Hardy said he was confident his union’s membership base would reject the offer, adding members had already rejected a similar offer at a recent mass meeting.

“We voted on the company’s offer at it stood at that point, and frankly nothing has changed in that agreement since,” he said.

Mr Hardy said there were several outstanding “critical” matters absent from the agreement, including a satisfactory dispute resolution process, income maintenance and shift work provisions.

“It’s pretty amazing that they would not communicate such plans to the CFMEU or their bargaining representatives, and it treats (them) with contempt,” Mr Hardy said.

“I have no doubt that the employees will firmly reject their offer,” he said, adding the workforce had given their full support to the CFMEU’s fight for a better agreement.

Yesterday’s move followed nine months of negotiations, strikes and work bans at the Yallourn Power Station led by the CFMEU and claims by the company the union had forced its hand in delaying a planned maintenance outage due to begin this month, putting 600 short-term jobs on hold.

“The CFMEU’s damaging industrial action has already impacted our Yallourn operation financially,” EnergyAustralia group executive manager operations and construction Michael Hutchinson said.

“There is no blank cheque. Every bit of industrial action the CFMEU undertakes comes off our bottom line. Already, the situation of threatened or actual industrial action has cost our operation in the order of $4 million. This will have to come straight off our works program, costing more jobs.”