The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union is considering a Federal Court appeal after the Fair Work Commission upheld its decision to terminate Loy Yang A’s enterprise bargaining agreement.
On Thursday the commission rejected the CFMEU’s appeal against a decision on 12 January to allow plant owner AGL to terminate the agreement, which covers more than 570 employees.
The commission upheld its decision with minor modifications after rejecting six of the eight arguments raised by the union in its appeal.
As part of the decision AGL has given an undertaking to maintain the workers’ pay and conditions at their current level for three years, until a new EBA is in place or the commission makes a workplace determination about the site.
But CFMEU Victorian mining and energy division secretary Geoff Dyke said the decision would have a serious impact on-site.
“The major impact of the undertaking maintains the key pay and conditions but it removes the minimum safe staffing levels,” Mr Dyke said.
“It removes any restrictions on contracting out the employees’ work and it allows for forced redundancy.
“In other words it removes all the employees’ job security.”
AGL’s undertaking means the workers will not move to the relevant modern award now that the EBA has been terminated, which would have resulted in workers receiving a 65 per cent pay cut.
Mr Dyke said the union’s lawyers would review the decision before a decision was made about whether to appeal to the Federal Court.
“We’ll seek an injunction against the decision if we’ve got the grounds and we’ll seek that the matter be heard in the Federal Court if we can,” he said.
“Obviously, the lawyers have got to look at the decision and look at the grounds to do that and we’ll go from there.”
AGL first offered its employees a 21.5 per cent pay increase over four years in 2015 but it was rejected amid fears the proposal would lead to the loss of 40 jobs.
Employees rejected a similar deal in September last year which offered a similar increase.
In a statement, AGL Loy Yang general manager Steve Rieniets said the commission’s decision would provide more certainty and stability to the company’s employees.
“This means that things like wages and classification rates, hours of work, allowances, leave provisions and superannuation entitlements will remain unchanged,” Mr Rieniets said.
“Our goal is still to negotiate a new agreement and we will continue to meet with bargaining representatives to achieve that.
“We are seeking an agreement that balances the long-term interests of the AGL Loy Yang business, its employees, the community, and electricity customers, as we want to make sure AGL Loy Yang continues to operate productively well into the future.”