AMWU members at ASC (both Submarine Sustainment and Shipbuilding) have been negotiating with the company for their new EBA.
After talks broke down, members have entered a campaign of industrial action.
The impasse in negotiations has occurred as a result of the Federal Coalition Government having unprecedented intervention in the bargaining process.
The Government is the owner of ASC, although it is a stand-alone statutory authority. For the first time ever, the Government has insisted that the company adhere to the Australian Public Service Bargaining Policy, which is being applied to all government departments and enterprises.
This intervention would see some 40 hard-won conditions be removed from the current EBA and either placed in company policy or removed all together. Many previous entitlements around hours of work, shifts, disciplinary policy and changes which previously required agreement with the workforce will now not be enforceable and be applied through company policy at the total discretion of the company.
“All we want is to keep our current conditions and get a reasonable wage increase, but the Government seems obsessed with taking our entitlements away from us,” said Glen Dallimore, Senior Delegate at ASC Shipbuilding.
“We’re not traditional public servants, we work and compete with private sector companies, and we should be able to negotiate on our own terms,” says Matthew Primiero, Senior Delegate at ASC Submarines.
The company and the Unions have negotiated Enterprise Agreements for 26 years and this is the first time the company has had instructions to follow public service guidelines.
“On top of the company trying to remove employee entitlements the guidelines don’t allow for back pay or lump sum bonus payments. This means the lousy 2% per year on offer is more like 1% given the workers haven’t had a pay increase now for over 2 years,” said Colin Fenney, Assistant State Secretary.
Rally outside of Minister Pyne's Office
In a call for fairness in the bargaining process, the AMWU has written to the Minister of Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, calling on him to intervene in the negotiations.
Workers from ASC Shipbuilding met in front the Ministers office on November 28 after Christopher Pyne failed to respond to the Union’s letters.
“The workers have made significant productivity improvements in both the sustainment of the submarines and the ship build and yet in recognition all the government wants to do is strip away conditions,” said Peter Bauer, Assistant State Secretary.