Shipbuilding workers at ASC are taking industrial action over the failure of the Federal Government-owned corporation to negotiate a satisfactory enterprise agreement with its workforce.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is concerned that negotiations have dragged on for two years without result.
“Workers have been left with no option but to engage in protected industrial action after ASC insisted on stripping back workers’ rights and entitlements,” said AMWU Acting State Secretary Colin Fenney.
Mr Fenney said workers at ASC Ships would take a rostered day off on Friday, followed by an overtime ban on Saturday and Sunday and two days of strike action on Monday and Tuesday.
“This is the first time that ASC has sought to impose Australian Public Service guidelines on its workforce which is removing flexibility from the ASC Enterprise Agreement and clearing the decks for privatisation,” Mr Fenney said.
Under the proposed agreement put forward by ASC, workers would not be consulted about issues affecting workplace changes and other issues which could reduce workplace disputes.
“In a critical heavy engineering environment like shipbuilding, it is vitally important that workers are given a voice to raise issues of workplace change and hours of work,” Mr Fenney said.
“We accept that contractors have always been a part of ASC’s business but that’s been on the basis that permanent employees were not disadvantaged. Now ASC wants to throw that concept out,” Mr Fenney said.
ASC shipbuilder and senior AMWU delegate Glenn Dallimore said workers were frustrated that as the Federal Government moves to a continuous-build program for naval shipbuilding, it was also attacking the workforce.
“The management at Osborne should stop toeing the Government’s line and conclude these negotiations by improving on the current Enterprise Agreement instead of trashing it,” Mr Dallimore said.
The AMWU wrote to Industry and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne on October 5, 2016 calling on him to intervene and help solve the dispute. The Minister has neither intervened, nor replied.
The AMWU told Mr Pyne: “There have been no lost days due to industrial disputes over many years at the company despite a raft of changes to work practices being introduced to enhance improved productivity. These workers have and are facing considerable job insecurity and redundancy due to the gap of work which exists pending the introduction of new work from recent decisions to build future naval ships and submarines.”
Colin Fenney said: “If Christopher really is ‘the Fixer,’ as he claims, it’s about time he stepped in and fixed this dispute.”
Media comment Colin Fenney 0418826677
Media contact John Hill 0412197079