Gladstone workers granted vote on strike action in EBA feud
THREATS of industrial action at Gladstone Power Station are getting stronger with unions gaining a major approval from the Fair Work Commission this week.
This week the FWC approved a combined unions application for a protected action ballot at NRG.
The application is the latest move in the union and workers fight against proposed changes to their Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
If workers vote in favour of protected industrial action, which Electrical Trades Union central Queensland state organiser Craig Giddins is confident they will, they can strike.
The ballot process, which will start on Monday, takes about 20 days.
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Mr Giddins said the unions were using every legal avenue to fight the proposed changes to the EBA.
"It's turning into a bit of a feud," he said.
"All we can do is use our legal rights to stop the worst of what the company wants to do to the workforce."
Unions argue Gladstone Power Station operators NRG will make it easier to bring in contractors because of some changes to the agreement.
Gladstone Power Station has denied these claims.
General manager Nigel Warrington said on May 16-17 management would have further talks with unions over proposed changes.
"The unions have committed to tabling a new offer and we are hopeful of making progress," Mr Warrington said.
Mr Giddins said the proposed EBA offers the same base wage for workers but has lower rates for overtime.
While the likelihood of a strike at Gladstone's power station is increasing, Mr Giddins said they won't be "turning the power off".
"People not need fear the power being turned off by the workers," he said.
"There's every chance the company could lock the force out ... But who's going to run the power station?"
Mr Giddins added the community was welcome to join workers in their next protest outside the power station on Wednesday morning from 5.30am.
The Services Union, which has about 30 members at Gladstone Power Station, said the protected industrial action was a necessary step after seven months of negotiations for the new EBA.
Secretary Neil Henderson said union members were willing to take industrial action for their employment conditions.
"How can an employer get it so wrong?" he said.
"To get a ballot result of 162 to 1 opposing the changes to the EBA is extraordinary.
"Most employers wouldn't wait their time .... But we know they just want to get through the process so they can terminate the agreement."
The ballot vote will open on Monday with the Australian Electoral Commission posting material to workers.
Workers have until May 25 to submit votes back to the AEC.
Protected industrial action is authorised by a ballot if: at least 50% of those on the voting roll participated in the ballot, and more than 50% of votes cast were in favour of the industrial action.
How each side views the proposed agreement:
NRG claim they are offering:
- No changes to existing wages, hours, leave, superannuation
- No changes to other benefits for existing employees
- Maintaining all award protections such as consultation and redundancy provisions
What The Services Union claims NRG is proposing:
- 0% pay rise this year;
- Followed by three 1.5% pay rises;
- Reduced ability for you to earn overtime;
- Reduced consultation and job security;
- Under-cut current Award protections;
- Easier use of contractors;
- Reduced redundancy conditions for future employees (to reduce job security); and
- Replace competencies AFTER the EBA with a whole new pay structure that they decide.