Explosive ordinance (EO) workers in Eden have walked off the job this morning, joining nationwide action over pay disparity and a dangerous goods allowance with defence contractor Thales.
A four hour stop-work began was underway at 9am, following an indefinite ban on loading and unloading of trucks and overtime which began at midnight across Thales 17 Australian sites.
National Union of Workers (NUW) delegate Heidi Welsh said members wanted pay equality with other employees doing similar work and provide fair compensation for the risky work they do with dangerous goods.
“Dangerous goods allowances are paid for people packing perfume and here we are working with explosives,” she said.
“We want to go back to the table and talk, and come up with something that works for both of us.”
The workers have asked the company for an eight per cent increase up front (15 per cent is required for pay equality) after their Enterprise Agreement expired in July 2012.
Negotiations for a new agreement began in December last year.
A Thales spokesperson said: “We have had a constructive working relationship with the unions for many years, and are negotiating in good faith to address currently unresolved topics.”
“We will continue talking to our employees and the unions, and are optimistic about a positive outcome.”
Thales is a French multinational that has a contract with the Australian Defence Force to store, distribute and maintain explosive ordnance at 17 facilities across the country.
NUW states it is working with Thales to ensure there will be no adverse effect for Australian Defence Force members currently abroad in active service.