The power industry’s state and national union powerbrokers are being summoned for high level talks this week, to develop contingency plans should industrial turmoil at Yallourn continue to deteriorate.
The union representing Yallourn’s 75 locked-out operators, the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union will return to Fair Work Australia on Thursday, in what has been described as “the last roll of the dice” to reach an elusive enterprise bargaining agreement with station owner EnergyAustralia.
While alternative unions representing Yallourn’s maintenance workers, also covered by the EA, are still hopeful the two parties can come to an agreement, they have collectively agreed to unite their highest ranking union officials for an “emergency meeting” this week.
“If agreement isn’t reached in FWA, and they are still poles apart; the idea is to get all the unions together in the one room and resolve what exactly we are all going to do about this,” Australian Services Union’s Cameron Wright said.
“There is too much at stake here – we are dealing with people’s jobs and livelihoods; this needs to end soon one way or another, our members cannot stand around just waiting for this situation to resolve itself.”
Thursday’s FWA hearing will come after two days of conciliation between the parties failed to reach agreement last week.
The CFMEU put forward a revised agreement to EnergyAustralia on Friday, detailing a number of bargaining concessions, to which the union is expecting a response before Thursday’s conciliation session.
While EnergyAustralia group executive manager Michael Hutchinson noted the CFMEU had “finally shown some compromise” in the revised claim, he noted the union was still seeking more than 40 additional changes to the existing agreement.
Mr Hutchinson said the remaining demands contained “fundamental differences” in what the company was prepared to deliver if it was to remain competitive, noting dispute resolution, operational guidelines and fixed manning among the key points of disagreement.
Clarification: The ASU has 16 members covered by the Yallourn power station EA agreement under negotiation, not six, as was reported in last Thursday’s Express.