AGL Bogong hydro workers strike again

The entrance to the AGl Bogong plant. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK
The entrance to the AGl Bogong plant. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

WORKERS at AGL’s Bogong hydro power station at Mount Beauty will strike tomorrow for the second week in a row.

About 35 workers voted to take protected action against the company after negotiations over a new enterprise agreement broke down in November.

Last Friday workers stopped work from noon until 4pm and tomorrow they’ll down tools between 10am and 2pm.

The action is a joint move between the Australian Services Union, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and Electrical Trades Union.

CFMEU regional organiser Duncan McGregor said the sticking point was a clause stating AGL would “endeavour” to not make staff redundant and replaced by contract workers.

The workers want it to be changed so the company can’t.

“You could be working up there with your whole family in Mount Beauty; they could make you redundant and give your work to a contractor,” Mr McGregor said.

“I’m not saying that’s what they would do, but we want a clause to say they can’t.”

Mr McGregor said up to nine control room jobs were being relocated to Melbourne.

The jobs transfer is not part of the strike action, but Mr McGregor said it meant they could not trust the company would do its best by workers.

Mr McGregor said the unions also wanted to discuss wage increases and superannuation in its agreement with the company.

It now includes a 4 per cent wage increase a year but workers were seeking 5 per cent.

Mr McGregor said AGL had refused to further discuss the issues.

“There are a number of periphery issues that can be settled once we get back to the table,” he said.

“Until such a time, we have no alternative than to take protected action.”

Workers can take an unlimited number of stoppages, between one and 24 hours, or for an unspecified length of time.

They also have the option of an unlimited number of indefinite and/or periodic bans on overtime, call-ins, performing higher duties, weekend work and the use of communication devices and computers.

Mr McGregor said the unions were hopeful they could continue talks with the company.

An AGL Energy spokesman said the company had advised unions it was available to meet at any stage to clarify its offer.