Singleton’s Townhead Park turned bright orange on Friday morning when workers from Downer EDI’s Upper Hunter sites gathered for a protest meeting.
A failure to reach a favourable outcome between Downer EDI and the workers’ union representatives –the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union (AMWU) in their Enterprise Agreement negotiations means the company will now be hit with a series of strikes.
“Basically what’s happening here is we have been negotiating since January, we haven’t been able to reach a negotiated outcome so workers have had to make the decision to take protected action is supporting their wages and commissions,” said Cory Wright AMWU, assistant state secretary, who attended and spoke, at the meeting.
“The issue here is that the last three years in the enterprise agreement workers have given back in wages and conditions, they given up half their pay rise in one year in other years they have gone on two year wage freezes.
“They’ve given significant conditions back such as halving their redundancy, halving their site allowance. This had a huge affect on peoples take home pays and what they can earn and that was during the tough times of Downer.
“Now that Downer is making good profits again, the CEO and the General Manager for the EMC Group which is the current group we’re dealing with now, both now have over million dollar salaries. Last year they were both given $946,00 bonuses each, that a significant whack all on the back of some of these guys giving up their wages and conditions.
“Now the work force is asking for a little bit of that back, were not going crazy were only asking for a 3% per year of that back which isn’t out of the ballpark and we think Downer can afford it. The workforce has decided to ban together in solidarity until we reach an outcome that we are happy with”.
The Upper Hunter Downer workers come from Mt. Arthur Coal Mine, Mt. Thorley workshop, all the mine sites serviced from the Mt Thorley Workshop and workers engages at Bayswater and Liddell power stations.