THE federal government refuses to guarantee wages and conditions will be retained for staff at Thales munitions factories in Benalla and Mulwala.
The Electrical Trades Union yesterday said workers could lose thousands of dollars a year if the conditions they enjoyed were lost or diminished as a result of putting the operations of both sites up for commercial tender.
“These workers are not on large wages and there are limited job opportunities for these skills,” state organiser Damian King said.
“We are surprised a Labor government is not prepared to make the commitment.”
The factories employ about 700 workers.
“A commitment is urgently needed because at present Thales operates both sites and employs around 700 employees under two contracts with the federal government that are due to expire in June 2015,” Mr King said.
The Defence Department is seeking tenders from companies to take over the operations from July 2015.
“This tender process creates considerable uncertainty about the employment prospects of all workers on the sites and the legal status of their long standing employment conditions,” Mr King said.
The Border Mail yesterday contacted the office of Defence Minister Mike Kelly, but was told a response would not be made until Monday.
Mr King said at least one of the bidding companies had asked the Defence Department if they would be able to avoid being legally bound by the site pay agreement.
He said last year the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten, criticised the Queensland government for contracting out services and not committing that existing employment conditions need to be maintained by the new contractors.