Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union



Media Release

6 May 2024

South Australian submarine workers are calling for fairness as hundreds of tradespeople critical to the survival of Australia’s future AUKUS submarine fleet are set to walk off the job from the government-operated ASC maintenance and sustainment facility on Monday 6th May from 7:30am (ACST).

The facility is part of the Osborne Naval Shipyard, where 350 trades and operator support workers are taking protected industrial action over poor pay and conditions.

The maintenance crew currently work on the Collins Class submarines which will be in operation for another 20 years in support of the Royal Australian Navy.

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 which was 7% short of parity with their counterparts in Western Australia.

Currently, ASC workers in Western Australia receive 17% on average more than ASC workers in South Australia.

This is despite Western Australian ASC workers are trained in South Australia and are paid more in the process than by those training them.

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

Workers are struggling amidst a cost-of-living crisis and AMWU have been in long and patient negotiations with ASC since November 2023.

It’s in stark contrast to ASC CEO Stuart Whiley who recently received a 31% wage increase.

Media is invited to attend the site at 690 Mersey Road, North Osborne on Monday from 7:30am.

AMWU SA Assistant State Secretary Stuart Gordon will be available for comment.

Quotes attributable to Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union SA Assistant State Secretary Stuart Gordon:

South Australian workers are performing essential work and critically support the ASC workers in Western Australia. Why are these workers treated any less than those out West?”

“The SA division of ASC fulfils a vital role in Australia’s submarine capability by performing a huge volume of work unlike anywhere else across the country. They are the only team able to carry out the Collins’ deep maintenance, or Full-Cycle Docking where the boat is completely stripped down and has its massive diesel engines and main motor removed and refurbished. The WA division of ASC only do the running maintenance of the boats and

breakdowns. The SA submarine workers are constantly helping and training their WA colleagues, and fixing all the equipment they remove as the SA division has the skills, expertise and knowledge to undertake these tasks.

“Hundreds of submarine experts work on the Collins Class submarines which are an essential part of Australia's current naval capability. It’s a slap in the face for trainers in SA who are being paid less than those they are training. They should be paid more, but they’re just asking to be paid the same. These workers deserve respect.”

“ASC management needs to get serious about attracting and retaining skilled workers in South Australia so that they’re not losing them to other states like WA.”

“Australia’s future nuclear-powered submarine fleet will serve an important role in our national security. The maintenance crew responsible for keeping these submarines in operation should be paid accordingly for the important work they do.”

Media contact: Sonia Feng 0478 599 580

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