Breakthrough in Yallourn dispute

UPDATE: Yallourn owner operator EnergyAustralia has labelled the in-principle agreement reached with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union as a win for both sides of the dispute. 

“We are pleased that we have had genuine negotiations with the union in recent weeks. There has been compromise by both the union and the company,” a company spokesperson said. 

“Talks have progressed well recently and we welcome the fact that the union will put a proposed agreement to delegates.

“The proposed agreement gives us the flexibility to manage the power station in response to market conditions.”

Negotiators have reached a breakthrough in the epic industrial dispute at Yallourn power station, with bargaining parties coming to an ‘in-principle’ agreement. 

The development came late yesterday, after weeks of renewed face-to-face discussions between the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and Yallourn owner operator EnergyAustralia. 

The 75 Yallourn operators, who have manned a protest camp outside the station since being locked out by the company on 21 June, will vote tomorrow morning on whether to accept the enterprise bargaining agreement offer. 

CFMEU national president Tony Maher said the four-year EA delivered significant benefits for the operator workforce, including a comprehensive dispute settlement clause, which had proved a sticking point between parties during negotiations. 

“We’re very pleased local negotiators have finally reached a position they’re happy to put to members – this is a real breakthrough,” Mr Maher said. 

“But it should never have come to this. This is one of the longest lockouts in Australia and certainly the longest ever in the power industry. 

“The decision to lock workers out was a reckless overreaction from the company – it has made the road to a fair deal much longer and more painful than it needed to be.” 

Other key elements included in the offer are a job security clause assuring no employee is made redundant in place of a contractor, a guaranteed minimum staffing level of 73 operators and a 22.5 per cent wage increase over four years.