July 4, 2013
The CFMEU’s focus on industrial action rather than negotiation will not deliver a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) at Yallourn Power Station, EnergyAustralia Group Executive Manager, Operations and Construction, Michael Hutchinson said today.
Mr Hutchinson said that at Fair Work Commission conciliation over the past two days, the CFMEU had barely moved from its original claims, despite EnergyAustralia making a range of concessions.
“EnergyAustralia has consistently tried to resolve the EBA matter at Yallourn,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“Every step of the way, the CFMEU has refused to substantially move on the extensive list of claims numbering over 50 that it wants included in any future EBA.
“The CFMEU effectively wants to take away the discretion of management to run the Yallourn Power Station.
“Instead of negotiating, the CFMEU has chosen to lead a protracted campaign of industrial action designed to force the company to surrender to the union’s demands.”
Mr Hutchinson said that in its new offer and in conciliation the company had fully or partially addressed issues raised by CFMEU, proposing:
  • Changes to income maintenance insurance;
  • Expanding consultation arrangements;
  • Widening the scope of the dispute resolution process;
  • Arrangements supporting secondments within the company;
  • Notice periods for employees leaving the company;
  • Increases in superannuation payments;
  • Increases in leave entitlements;
  • Agreement to look at more options for novated car lease arrangements;
  • Salary sacrifice for professional memberships, including union dues; and
  • First aid training to be provided to employees and their families.
Through EnergyAustralia’s revised offer and recent conciliation, agreement has not been reached on a range of other CFMEU claims, such as: fixed manning; extending or increasing special allowances around outages and travel; annualised salaries; paid afternoon tea breaks; probation and standing down arrangements; and the scope of management discretion across operations. 
EnergyAustralia’s new offer reflected concessions made around the CFMEU’s claims, as well as the impact of the CFMEU’s protracted industrial campaign, which has cost the company more than $10 million. 
“Our original wage offer was based on the old EBA rolling over into a new EBA: no change to employees’ rights, nothing extra asked from management,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We have addressed a number of the CFMEU’s claims in our revised EBA offer and still proposed annual payrises in excess of inflation.
“The CFMEU has consistently said the dispute is not about pay, but about conditions. We have moved on a number of the CFMEU’s claims – now we need to see the CFMEU be prepared to move as well.”
Mr Hutchinson repeated EnergyAustralia’s position that it had no plans for any redundancies in either operations or maintenance at Yallourn. 
“We recruited 12 operator trainees over the last two years and plan to recruit an additional six operator trainees early next year,” he said.
Mr Hutchinson said the CFMEU had undertaken to put forward a revised agreement by Friday this week and that a further round of conciliation may occur as early as Monday 8 July.
“We remain determined to reach a deal that will benefit workers and ensure the sustainability of Yallourn,” Mr Hutchinson said
Meanwhile, Mr Hutchinson said EnergyAustralia was taking action to protect the remaining 425 jobs on site during the CFMEU’s industrial campaign.
“It’s important we can continue running the power station so we can support the other 425 workers on site,” he said.
“If the power station isn’t able to run, we would be forced to stand down most of these workers and this would have a significant impact on not just individual workers, but their families and the broader Latrobe Valley community.”
Mr Hutchinson said that since the negotiation process began, EnergyAustralia had:
  • Proposed a rollover agreement maintaining all existing workplace rights, not asking for anything new from employees and offering significant salary increases;
  • Sought additional meetings with the Single Bargaining Unit (SBU);
  • Agreed to meet with the CFMEU after the union withdrew from the SBU;
  • Instigated a direct ballot of employees on EnergyAustralia’s rollover offer;
  • Instigated Fair Work Commission conciliation;
  • Sought to minimise the impact of CFMEU industrial action on the other 425 jobs at the Yallourn power station; and
  • Proposed a revised offer.