Jobs under threat at Loy Yang

At least 15 power station jobs will be lost at AGL Loy Yang under a new enterprise bargaining agreement put to employees.

However unions fear the losses will be closer to 40 across mine and power station operations, a claim denied by AGL.

Unions have rejected the company’s proposed EBA and warned of “another Yallourn” in reference to a three-month lockout in 2013 over an industrial dispute with EnergyAustralia.

The secretary of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s mining and energy division, Geoff Dyke, said unions were opposed to “a high profit-making employer cutting jobs”.

AGL’s underlying profit last year was $630 million.

“This shows a lack of social responsibility from AGL and the impact on the Latrobe Valley community is huge,” Mr Dyke said.

“They (AGL) take our resources, and have a dramatic impact on our environment and landscape.

“The only benefit the Latrobe Valley people get out of it is jobs, and even though they made two-thirds of a billion dollar profit, they want to cut more jobs.”

The CFMEU is part of a single bargaining unit (SBU) negotiating the proposal alongside Australian Services Union, Electrical Trades Union and Professionals Australia.

Under AGL Loy Yang’s proposed agreement, put to employees in July, the 15 job losses in power station operations will be through “natural attrition and early retirement options”, meaning resignations and retirements will not be replaced. The completion of a 10-year, $60 million digital control system project has resulted in “the opportunity to reduce power station staffing levels”, according to AGL Loy Yang general manager Steve Rieniets.

“This will be achieved without any compulsory redundancies,” Mr Rieniets said.

“Even after the modest staffing reductions being sought in the proposed EBA, Loy Yang will still have the highest ratio of operators per generating unit of any AGL or Latrobe Valley power station.”

The CFMEU fears the proposal will also result in cuts in the mine operations and power station engineering and maintenance areas, bringing the total job losses through natural attrition to 40.

AGL Loy Yang has rejected that claim.

“Importantly, our proposed enterprise agreement also maintains a no compulsory redundancy provision,” Mr Rieniets said.

“AGL Loy Yang has tabled a very generous enterprise agreement which includes pay increases of five per cent per annum over the next four years in exchange for some modest productivity and efficiency gains.

“The proposal does not impact the generous leave benefits, entitlements and superannuation currently enjoyed by AGL Loy Yang employees.”

But Mr Dyke said much of the salary increase was due to savings made by cutting jobs.

“We’d prefer to forgo a pay rise if we can get a fair agreement,” he said.

Mr Dyke is concerned the agreement was put to employees as a package and said unions had not been given the opportunity to negotiate each point or to put their pay claim to AGL Loy Yang.

However Mr Rieniets denied this.

“During single bargaining unit discussions we have asked the CFMEU and the other unions on numerous occasions for their pay claim and they have declined to provide this information,” Mr Rieniets said.

The current EBA expires on 31 December.

Employees are set to vote on the proposed agreement in a confidential ballot to be held from 27 November to 3 December.