13 October, 2022 – Tasmanian AMWU members at Swedish mining equipment manufacturer Epiroc are preparing for a second round of industrial action after walking out of a meeting with the company’s management last week.
EBA negotiations have dragged on for more than two and a half years, with Epiroc refusing to give workers in Burnie a yearly pay rise, recognise shift workers’ entitlements or COVID leave, or honour EBA clauses regarding union rights. Epiroc engaged in similar behaviour during EBA negotiations with AMWU members in Western Australia.
It’s yet another example of how Australia’s current enterprise bargaining system is badly broken. Single-employer bargaining leads to inconsistent rights and conditions among workers. Shifting to multi-employer bargaining will give workers and businesses much-needed stability and security.
Quotes attributable to AMWU Tasmanian State Secretary John Short:
“After more than two and a half years of trying to bargain with Epiroc management in good faith, our members have had enough. At every step, Epiroc have delayed, stonewalled, and tried to strip away hard-won rights and protections that give workers safety and dignity in the workplace.
“The cost-of-living crisis is being felt worse in Tasmania than in many other parts of the country, but amazingly, Epiroc are refusing a yearly wage increase for workers. Management expects workers to work harder and put in longer hours while their wages fall behind rising prices.
“Just two weeks ago, Epiroc paid $150 million to purchase a South African mining manufacturer. They have money for that, but apparently no money to support the workers who do the work and make their profits. It’s ridiculous.
“We’ve been trying to negotiate in good faith with Epiroc for years now, but we’ve gotten absolutely nothing back in return. It was exactly the same for our members in Western Australia when they were bargaining with Epiroc. We’ve been left with no choice but to go ahead with a second round of planned industrial action.
“It’s a disgrace that a large company would show such contempt for its workers the way Epiroc does, but it’s also a sign of how broken our enterprise bargaining system has become. Workers shouldn’t have to rely on the good faith of a particular employer for their rights and conditions. Workers’ rights should be consistent and reliable. That’s why we’re pushing for multi-employer bargaining – to give workers the stability and peace of mind they deserve.”