December 21, 2022
Emergency services officers at AGL Loy Yang A have commenced protected industrial action to fight the introduction of individual contracts and instead reinstate a Union Agreement that provides for strong collective conditions.
After seven months of unproductive meetings between bargaining representatives and MSS Strategic Medical and Rescue (MSS SMR), a Protected Action Ballot Order (PABO) was approved by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and Members voted to take industrial action.
Protected action commenced on 17 December 2022 and is likely to continue over Christmas and New Years.
In December last year, workers were blindsided when MSS SMR secured the contract from AGL. In this process, workers’ Enterprise Agreement was removed, and individual contracts were provided by the company who believe in ‘direct engagement’.
From the Union’s perspective, MSS SMR made no attempt to engage the Union, and have dismantled an industry leading Enterprise Agreement with hard fought for wages and conditions, instead introducing common law contracts.
“It was extremely disappointing to have a multinational company like MSS SMR tender a quote for OHS and Security at the AGL Loy Yang power station, and then undercut wages and conditions of shift workers that have been built up over decades,” said Mark Richards, Secretary of the Mining and Energy Union Victorian District.
Contracts strip away wages and conditions, but also remove workers’ ability to have a say in what happens to them at work.
Conditions are now covered by company policy which can be changed at the company’s whim, and basic clauses such as consultation and dispute resolution have been removed.
AGL has already announced that they will be closing Loy Yang A ten years earlier than expected, and power station workers are looking for real and genuine support during this time of upheaval and uncertainty.
“While the Latrobe Valley is looking for a Just Transition for workers, having their conditions stripped away is a massive kick in the guts for all in the industry.”
However, one thing MSS did not factor in when making all these changes was the resolve of our Members, who have stayed united through the process.
The Mining and Energy Union informed MSS SMR of our intention to enter into bargaining on behalf of our Members in May, and now they are engaging in industrial action to win back a fair collective Agreement.
This will be a process to win back the wages and conditions that were stripped away by the company, however Members are presenting a united front, and the Union will always back in our Members who are fighting dodgy employers and unfair individual contracts.