Members at Coates Hire are being asked to send the equipment hire company a forceful message that they won’t be dictated to when they have the opportunity to vote for protected industrial action.
The members at about 200 Coates Hire sites across Australia have been patient for over 12 months as the AMWU, TWU and ETU have tried to negotiate a new union agreement, but management keep sticking to a script with no pay rise and stripped-back conditions for future workers.
AMWU National Industrial Officer Don Sutherland said that over the coming days, union members have the chance to vote for the right under the Fair Work Act to take protected action, which could begin next month if they agree.
Actions could include bans on Coates trucks and cranes which load and unload the heavy machinery they hire out to the construction and mining industry.
Ballot papers should have already arrived via Australia Post, with the deadline to send them back being October 10th.
Most members at Coates work at small sites with just a few members. Their existing enterprise agreement covering our members, the ETU and TWU expired on March 31.
In early July, they overwhelmingly rejected a company proposal in a ballot through Fair Work Australia, but management is arrogantly refusing to heed their message.
Coates continue to cry poor to the workforce about the mining downturn in WA, while telling shareholders it is recovering strongly through the infrastructure boom in NSW and Victoria.
It is proposing a two-year wage freeze and cutting back workers’ secure redundancy provisions through NEST so much that the scheme will no longer be an effective fallback if their employer goes bust.
The company also expects its existing workforce to sell-out future workers, as the deal would consign new starters to lower wages, less annual leave, reduced overtime pay and redundancy back at the award standard.
Mr Sutherland said: “It gives an insight into the selfish morality of Coates Hire. They are wrong to think that workers think like that.”
“We’ve given management every chance to come to a compromise, we have put to them a two-year rollover agreement with existing conditions, but their mentality is “take, take, take’.
“Now Coates may have to learn the hard way that AMWU and other union members will stand together.”