Brenda Strong

Tensions rise as more Gladstone workers vote on strike

INDEFINITE striking and bans on overtime are on the cards for union members at Orica Yarwun.

Multiple unions have applied to the Fair Work Commission for a workers' vote on industrial action, following two years of negotiations for the site's new enterprise bargaining agreement.

Australian Workers' Union central district organiser Zac Beers said the process had been drawn out because management has changed "about half a dozen times" in the two years.

"Every time a new group of management moves in it's back to square one and all the arguments need to be rehashed," he said.

Mr Beers said part of Orica's proposed EBA was to remove the "classification structure" which he said would allow the company to change pay and roster agreements.


"While they say they have no intentions to make changes, these proposals would allow them to do it," he said.

This is disputed by Orica Yarwun, which says it's seeking no changes to salaries or redundancy entitlements for current workers.

Orica Yarwun site general manager Scott Reid said the company had been bargaining in good faith.

As suggested by Orica, the Fair Work Commission began mediated bargaining for the new EBA last month.

The current enterprise bargaining agreement, which Mr Beers said was in place since the 80s, expired in October 2015.

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Mr Reid said while there were no proposals to lower salaries or change redundancy entitlements for its workers, the company is seeking changes to some rosters.

"It is disappointing that a proposed protection ballot has been submitted so early in the mediation process," he said.

"We are committed to continuing discussions aimed at resolving outstanding issues and reaching an agreed outcome with our employees."

Mr Reid said proposed changes were to bring "better management control, to support continuous improvement and the long-term operation of the site".

Workers will vote on the protected action ballot on August 14.

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Mr Beers said, if supported, any strike or industrial action would only take place if a deal could not be made on the agreement.

Meanwhile discussions between NRG Gladstone Power Station, unions and the Fair Work Commission for changes to the site's EBA continue this week.

The company's applicaiton to terminate the current agreement, and the worker's industrial action have been put on hold during the FWC mediation meetings.

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