April 29, 2013

Having reached an impasse after nine months of negotiations, EnergyAustralia today announced it would take its Yallourn enterprise bargaining agreement offer directly to employees for a vote.

EnergyAustralia Group Executive Manager Operations and Construction, Michael Hutchinson, said the company had reached an impasse with the CFMEU, and in a bid to break the deadlock, had decided to take its offer to employees.
The decision follows a two-day strike ordered by the CFMEU on April 18 and 19, which followed another CFMEU-led strike on 3 April and other work bans over the period. It also follows the CFMEU choosing not to respond to EnergyAustralia’s request that they reconsider their position on issues that had created the impasse in negotiations.
The industrial action has so far resulted in EnergyAustralia being forced to defer a planned maintenance outage, putting on hold 600 short-term local jobs.
“The CFMEU’s damaging industrial action has already impacted our Yallourn operation financially,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“There is no blank cheque. Every bit of industrial action the CFMEU undertakes comes off our bottom line. Already, the situation of threatened or actual industrial action has cost our operation in the order of $4 million. This will have to come straight off our works program, costing more jobs.
“While we don’t know what the outcome of a ballot will be, we are putting our offer directly to employees because we believe it is a fair and reasonable offer. We are taking steps to bring this matter to a head and we would like to have a new EBA in place at Yallourn as quickly as possible.”
Mr Hutchinson said the Yallourn Power Station was already operating in a difficult environment, under increased pressure from falling wholesale electricity demand and the $350 million asset write-down following the introduction of a price on carbon.
Yallourn employees have been notified from today of the intention to run a ballot, with letters being sent to all employees covered by the EBA. There will be a seven day access period, before voting opens on 2 May 2013. Voting will continue until 16 May 2013.
“The pay offer on the table is a 6 per cent pay rise up front, payable from 1 May, and 25 per cent over four years – and we are not asking our employees to do anything more than they are already doing,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We encourage all employees to take the time to consider the offer and discuss with their families what is on the table before voting.”