Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union


AMWU calls for the sacking of millionaire ASC CEO, as hundreds of critical AUKUS submarine workers issue no confidence vote over pay dispute

Members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) are calling for the head of government-operated submarine builder ASC to be dismissed as hundreds of South Australian submarine workers critical to the survival of Australia’s future AUKUS submarine fleet unanimously issue a vote of no confidence in the CEO’s leadership.

AMWU SA Assistant State Secretary Stuart Gordon said around 300 members across the AMWU, AWU and ETU want to see ASC CEO Stuart Whiley – who recently secured a 31% wage increase of $250,000 – ousted.

“This is a 100% majority no confidence vote. Workers are fed up with Stuart Whiley’s personal self-interest. His massive pay increase has come at the sacrifice of the workforce because for years ASC has degraded workers’ wages. He should be sacked effective immediately.”

“Why is Stuart Whiley paid an eye-watering salary that is north of $1 million from public funds to oversee submarine workers who are not paid their worth despite performing critical work in maintaining Australia’s naval defence system? Workers expect the CEO to address unequal pay experienced by SA tradespeople, but he continues to shirk off his responsibilities,” Mr Gordon said.

Currently, ASC workers in Western Australia receive around 17% on average more than ASC workers in South Australia – despite Western Australian ASC workers being trained in South Australia and are paid more in the process than by those training them.

The Adelaide-based CEO has not attended one negotiation meeting despite many requests from the AMWU. The call to dismiss the ASC boss comes ahead of a scheduled meeting between union representatives and ASC’s HR department on Thursday 23 May at 9:00am.

Mr Gordon said the highest paid CEO of a federal public entity in Australia is Stuart Whiley.

“It's quite incredible that his total package is worth $1,084,725, and he oversees a relatively small agency compared to the other public agencies and commissions that have far greater employees and scope,” Mr Gordon said.

Around 300 trades and operator support workers providing maintenance and sustainment at the Osborne Naval Shipyard have been walking off the job every day for the last three weeks over the pay dispute.

The stoppages have caused significant disruption regarding one of the submarines that is currently undergoing deep maintenance, increasing the delay in its service to Australia’s naval force.

Part of the protected industrial action involves a higher duty ban and despite workers giving advanced notice to ASC management, workers have been threatened to be stood down without pay.

The maintenance crew currently work on the Collins Class submarines which form an essential part of Australia’s current defence capability. The fleet will to be in operation for another 20 years in support of the Royal Australian Navy, ahead of AUKUS submarines being operational in Australia.

The South Australian workers are the only ones in the country able to carry out the Collins’ deep maintenance, otherwise known as a Full-Cycle Docking, which is necessary maintenance to keep the submarines operational.

These same workers will serve a critical role once nuclear-powered submarines under AUKUS are built.

AMWU, AWU and ETU members have recently rejected the offer by ASC of 6.75% which is around 11% short of parity with their counterparts in Western Australia.

Mr Gordon said ASC has penalised workers who decided to stand up for fair wages.

“ASC have publicly said they want to come to the bargaining table, but they’ve reduced their offer. How is that in any way coming to table to these workers who literally keep our naval defence up and running?” Mr Gordon said.

“If ASC enact the higher duty direction to workers and workers are refusing due to the strike, then the company could lock people out.”

The AMWU is seeking ASC address the discrepancy with South Australian wages which have been ignored during successive enterprise bargaining negotiations over several years.

“This workforce has secured the future of Australian and South Australian shipbuilding. The workers have done so through their performance and by rallying in their own time to force the government to invest in shipbuilding in Australia, while the CEO has sat back reaping the rewards,” Mr Gordon said.

“Many CEOs, Directors-General, and Commissioners of some of the largest and most important regulatory bodies in Australia have smaller total remuneration packages than Stuart Whiley. His package is worth more than even the closest-paid Commissioner of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority – a body tasked with regulating the $360 billion financial services industry.”

“When Stuart Whiley was questioned in parliament by the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee in February about his wage increase, he could not remember how much he earned.”

“These workers are needed for the AUKUS arrangement with BAE Systems and ASC to be successful. Unequal pay for work that is vital for our national security is unacceptable.”

It comes as the South Australian Premier tours shipyards in the United States that are building nuclear-powered submarines, as well as meeting figures from the US defence program to discuss South Australia’s involvement in the AUKUS submarine program.

Media contact: Sonia Feng 0478 599 580



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