The focus of this week’s conciliation must be the fundamental differences between EnergyAustralia and the CFMEU over core issues at the centre of any new workplace agreement for Yallourn Power Station operator and maintenance employees.
Group Executive Manager, Operations and Construction, Michael Hutchinson said it was encouraging to see the CFMEU move on some ancillary items, but for agreement to be reached, the union must address the core issues.
Mr Hutchinson said the union had to move from its position on the key issues of:
- Dispute resolution;
- Scope of the agreement;
- Operational guidelines;
- Fixed manning;
- Annualised salaries; and
- Additional leave.
Mr Hutchinson said EnergyAustralia’s preference had been for a rollover agreement, with the same workplace rights for employees as the last agreement, but the CFMEU was insisting on more than 50 additional claims to be added into any future agreement.
“Rather than supporting the agreement that underpinned a stable and safe workplace for the past four years, the CFMEU put forward an extensive list of claims that would significantly change the EBA and would impact on our ability to run the business sustainably,” he said.
“The CFMEU submitted a revised list of claims – additional conditions over and above what was included in our last EBA – last Friday,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“The union still has more than 40 claims that they are seeking to change the existing agreement following conciliation sessions.
"Importantly within those demands are still the key fundamental differences between what the CFMEU is demanding and what we are prepared to deliver if we are to remain competitive in these challenging economic conditions.”
The CFMEU has moved on some of their demands, including removing their claim to seek EA to reopen its defined benefits superannuation for new employees.
Mr Hutchinson said EnergyAustralia wanted future talks to focus on the core issues. Conciliation had been booked for today, but was moved to Thursday due to CFMEU representative Greg Hardy not being available.
“While this provides us some hope we may finally have a chance at some genuine negotiated outcomes, there is still a long way to go,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We are hoping the CFMEU will now review the key claims that remain outstanding.
“We have made a range of concessions throughout this negotiation process and remain committed to continuing negotiations to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
“Through these negotiations, our concessions include expanding consultation arrangements, widening the scope of the dispute resolution process, increased leave entitlements and accumulation fund superannuation payments, and agreeing to look at more options for novated car lease arrangements.
“These items were all demands the CFMEU had placed on the negotiating table,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“We want to reach an agreement as soon as possible, so we want to see future talks focus on the core issues.”