Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Sewage Strike Action Looms; Unions Set to Decide on Work Bans

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Sewage Strike Action Looms; Unions Set to Decide on Work Bans

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

A DECISION on whether strike action will be conducted by unions affecting up to 700 workers employed by Unitywater will be known by late today.

Australian Electoral Commission ballot papers were distributed to employees at Unitywater's Morayfield and Maroochydore depots yesterday morning following a meeting with officials from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia - Electrical, Energy and Services Division.

AMWU state organiser for Unitywater, Ricky Luke, accused the water utility of attempting to change the goal posts during bargaining over what he described as the union's push to "maintain fair pay and conditions" for employees.

Mr Luke said the AMWU believed Unitywater was attempting during negotiations over pay rates to water down hard-fought for conditions.

"We had no option but to push back," he said.

"We won't cop that."

Any action would potentially involve mechanical fitters, electricians and some operators.

A spokesperson for Unitywater said it could not provide any comment as the AEC process was still ongoing and under way.

"The results of this ballot will not be declared until tomorrow afternoon at the earliest," she said.

"If industrial action is determined as a course of action once the vote is finished, Unitywater will be given three working days' notice of such action."

Mr Luke said Unitywater wanted to put new employees under different arrangements in terms of working conditions to those enjoyed by existing employees.

"We want all workers to enjoy similar conditions, not for Unitywater to divide and conquer," he said.

Dan Bessell of the Electrical Trades Union accused Unitywater of attempting to slash wages as a means to cut water bills by $100 a household. …

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