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Insecure Work a Real Downer

Editors note: Victory to the workers! This dispute was resolved with a big win for the striking workers. Details at the end of the story.

“Fixed-term contracts,” says AMWU Victorian State Secretary, Tony Mavromadis. “That’s the blue.”

Workers at Downer’s Newport site took their first strike action in what could be a protracted campaign late last week. The company was the successful tender to build and maintain Melbourne’s new High Capacity Metro Trains. The issue, according to Mav, isn’t about money, isn’t about hours or rosters, it’s about security.

“It’s casualisation,” he told Megaphone Journal.

The Downer workforce, comprising manufacturing workers, electrical workers, and maintenance staff, build the trains you may have ridden to work this morning and keep them on the tracks. Problem is, the company has started keeping workers on fixed-term contracts - denying them employment security. Besides transferring all the business risk of industry peaks and troughs to employees, this practice also denies workers their rights.

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“They undermine working conditions,” Mav explains. “No one gets redundancy since you don’t get technically made redundant. Your contract just ends.”

AMWU, ETU and RTBU members voted unanimously to take escalating strike action, beginning with walking off the job last Friday. Today (Monday) they are back at work, but future strike actions are expected.

Stoppages will continue for as long as it takes for the company to present a reasonable offer which reduces their use of these despicable fixed-term contracts.

Megaphone Journal will be following the story closely as it develops.

Update - full time jobs back on the agenda at Downer!

Members at Downer have reached in-principle agreement with management, with several key wins achieved:

  • Supplementary labour positions exist for six months before becoming a Downer position. After a further six months, they become full-time permanent roles.

  • All current fixed-term positions are offered full-time jobs with Downer.

  • Future full-time jobs at TLS maintenance are offered to HCMT employees first.

  • Unions to receive notification of supplementary labour and all details to check classifications and proposed work. Time limits apply to supplementary labour positions.

  • 36 hour week in July 2022.

  • 5.5% in pay rises and a further 3% if the acceleration program introduced.

    The union members at the Downer HCMT project want to send their collective thanks and best wishes to all those who contributed and offered solidarity to the fight around their EBA.
    IF YOU DON'T FIGHT, YOU LOSE!

Workers at Downer’s Newport site took their first strike action in what could be a protracted campaign late last week. The company was the successful tender to build and maintain Melbourne’s new High Capacity Metro Trains. The issue, according to Mav, isn’t about money, isn’t about hours or rosters, it’s about security.

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