INDUSTRIAL ACTION: Darling Downs Power Station.
INDUSTRIAL ACTION: Darling Downs Power Station. Supplied

Workers take industrial action at power station

WORKERS at the Darling Downs Power Station have launched industrial action after failing to reach a new enterprise agreement with Origin Energy.

Origin initiated discussions about renegotiating the agreement before it expired but 13 meetings and a formal offer, tabled by Origin in November, have yet to bring about a resolution.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland vice-president Shane Brunker said negotiations had spanned nine months and hinged on fixing a work-life balance which had left workers "captive” to the power station.

"We're trying to get a nine-day fortnight for the tradesmen and the operations people have to owe the company some 28 days for free.

"We're trying to get rid of that because people are just tied to the company, tied to the operation, they can't have any days off, can't plan anything ahead because they might get called in to work,” Mr Brunker said.

So far action has included refusing to take work orders via email, refusing to work at heights and confined spaces and refusing to attend any meetings except for safety ones.

Mr Brunker said action could culminate in a total four-hour stop work meeting tomorrow.

"We've been trying to negotiate with them for nine months but we're just beating our heads against the wall,” he said.

"We've shown in our proposals to them that anything we've asked for is not going to cost them money.

"We're willing to forego the first year of pay increase to offset the nine-day fortnight.

"We need to stress, and we've stressed this to the company, it's not about money, it's about work-life balance for the employees and their families.”

A spokesman said Origin had been in discussions with employees and union bargaining representatives since mid-2018.

"We will continue to work with all parties in good faith to achieve a resolution and will reinvest in the plant to ensure its viability.” he said.

An Origin statement said claims about unfair work conditions were "untrue”.

"Employees are engaged under a salary package that compensates for reasonable additional hours over a year,” the statement said.

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