Hundreds of employees of Downer Group’s Engineering, Construction and Maintenance division based in Wollongong and Newcastle will stop work for three days, from today, as part of a campaign to protect their workplace conditions and win a fair pay rise.
Approximately 430 workers are covered by the agreement, with the industrial action likely to impact operations at a range of major projects, including: Bluescope Steel at Port Kembla, the construction of the new Nowra correctional centre, Eraring and Bayswater power stations, Mt Thorley and Mt Arthur mines, and the Williamtown RAAF base extension.
The workers taking part in the three-day work stoppage and an indefinite ban on overtime are highly skilled tradespeople, including electricians, fitters and boilermakers.
The workers, who are represented by the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, have been negotiating with Downer ECM management since February.
ETU NSW secretary Dave McKinley said workers were outraged that they were being asked to accept cuts to workplace conditions and a minimal pay rise at the same time that Downer had reported surging profits.
“For the last half of 2017, Downer reported that net profit after tax had jumped 8.5 per cent to $78.2 million,” Mr McKinley said.
“Much of that was driven by the Engineering, Construction and Maintenance division, which not only reported having $1.5 billion of work in hand, but saw earnings before interest and tax leap 31.6 per cent.
“These profits came on the back of workers enduring a two year wage freeze, reductions to their site allowances, and lower redundancy benefits.
“These workers are the reason profits are surging, yet they’re been denied a fair deal that sees them receive the benefit of their hard work.”
The unions are seeking a new workplace agreement that will deliver a minimum of 3 per cent a year pay rises over the next two years, in line with what the company agreed to pay its workers in Victoria and Queensland, along with a return of conditions that were cut in recent years.