Management of ESS (a global company which has the contract for private fire services at military bases near Wagga and Bandiana (Vic) delayed finalising a private sector collective agreement with its staff until today by giving assurances to the United Firefighters Union that no new offer would be put to members unless agreed by the Union. These assurances were worth nothing, with AWA’s now being forced on our members at these sites.
Whilst the agreement that had been agreed to in principle could be described as reasonable, with wage increases of 3.5% pa, or 14% over four years and one month probation for current employees; that’s where the reasonableness ended.
In an act of breathtaking bastardry, the company sent out a notice to members on site who were expecting the collective agreement saying they have been issued with an AWA or individual contract and to take it or leave it because no other offer will be made. So much for negotiation!
To add insult to injury, and in what can only be described as duress, members have been given a deadline to sign these AWA’s by 28 July 2006 or face the sack. A copy of the AWA can be accessed on our website.
Now, whilst the Howard Government’s Workchoices legislation means it’s legal for the company to engage in these sordid tactics, members can be assured the Union isn’t going cop this. The Union is currently organising a campaign response involving the ACTU and importantly, the media – but the key to a successful outcome will, as always, be the resolve of the members on the ground.
WorkChoices is no longer theoretical. These repressive laws turn the idea of a fair go on it’s head. They are being against workers in abattoirs, in the retail industry at the spotlight chain and are now being used against firefighters. There is much more of this to come so stay united and stay tuned.