Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Factory workers walk off

Benalla and Mulwala Thales employees held an hour-long stop work on Tuesday and may do so again today.

ANGELA TOWNSEND February 28, 2013 12:04am

About 150 Thales workers at Benalla (pictured) and Mulwala went on strikefor an hour today, protesting pay and contract conditions.

Thales workers at the Benalla and Mulwala facilities held an hour-long stop-work yesterday morning, protesting against current terms of contract and pay.

About 150 employees gathered in a car park at the main entrance of the ammunitions factory where Australian Manufacturers Workers Union’s Julian Gross — also the combined union site convenor for the Electrical Workers Union (EWU), Australian Workers Union (AWU), National Union of Workers (NUW) and Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA) — addressed the main issues.

‘‘We are holding out for a term that will take us past June 2015 and protect our entitlements,’’ Mr Gross said.

‘‘And we will fight that with industrial action.

‘‘Secondly, we are asking for a 10.5 per cent wage increase as a minimum offer and, thirdly, this needs to be backdated to October.

‘‘We need to do this without KPIs (key performance indicators) involved — you can’t put KPIs on production workers.’’

Mr Gross said his reasons for this included the wide variances of issues with machinery, fitters, supply and management.

‘‘Management thinks a reasonable wage rise is two per cent ... but we’re six months into negotiations — and nothing.’’

With an EBA meeting planned for today, workers were hoping for a positive outcome. However, the strikes may be ongoing if no agreement is reached.

‘‘If we don’t progress (today) we will be back here Thursday and I’d suggest more industrial action,’’ Mr Gross said.

‘‘Whether it’s an hour every day, or two hours three days (a week) — that sort of action really disrupts production.’’

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