BAE Systems Australia in union dispute

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Colin Muir, Australian Workers Union organiser Sam Woods, and Electrical Trades Union organiser Gerry Glover joined union members at a barbecue in front of British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) on July 8.

More than 290 union members voted to continue an indefinite ban on overtime and working rostered days off, and for 24-hour stoppages on Fridays. Only essential, high-voltage switch work will be carried out.

If the Williamstown-based company does not start negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement, including adding a heat stress policy, the workers will increase their protected action.

The unions representing BAE workers believed they had reached an agreement with the company that the apprenticeship hourly rate would be increased to the adult apprenticeship rate of $13 an hour, but BAE reneged on this.

First-year apprentices are paid a few cents over $9 an hour. “Hardly a living wage for our apprentices”, Muir said.

Wages at the Williamstown plant have fallen well behind other ship-building sites around Australia. Union members will not settle for a substandard pay outcome, Glover told the crowd.

More barbecues are planed as part of the industrial action.