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Issue #1536      22 February 2012

“Everything on the line” in Newcastle

Newcastle fitters working for a rich global mining equipment manufacturer will this week intensify industrial action as they maintain their battle to achieve pay equality.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) delegate Benn Billingsley said the members from German owned Schenck Process, were determined not to back down despite being locked out by their Australian management in December.

“They’ve put everything on the line and I’m really proud of them. It’s been tough for some of them with young families and some being on single incomes. But they’re holding out strong.”

He said members from both the AMWU and Australian Workers’ Union were unhappy at receiving significantly less than their colleagues in Queensland and had asked to be paid equally.

“The company want to pay more money to another guy, in another state for the same job and the same skills,” said Mr Billingsly. “We disagree with that whole-heartedly.

“Our pay rate doesn’t reflect the industry we work in. Management are happy to send us onto mine sites and we believe that our pay should more accurately reflect payment of the mining industry.”

Both unions have repeatedly asked to see profit and loss statements for the company’s Australian operations – only to be denied access. Last year the Schenck reportedly made a global profit of $640 million.

AMWU site organiser Jim O’Neill said members would selectively exercise their protected industrial action options throughout the coming weeks until the company reconsidered the union’s proposal.  

Next article – More jobs to go as Qantas wields the axe

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