MHPS contractors at QAL, Queensland Nitrate and Callide Power Station have started a two-day strike.
MHPS contractors at QAL, Queensland Nitrate and Callide Power Station have started a two-day strike. Andrew Thorpe

Contractors strike for 48 hours amid fears of 10% wage cut

CONTRACTORS fearing a wage cut of up to 10 per cent started a 48-hour strike yesterday at Callide Power Station, Queensland Alumina Limited and Queensland Nitrates at Moura.

It was the first industrial action taken by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power System union member employees at the sites since negotiations began last December for a new workplace agreement.

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union Gladstone organiser Phil Golby said the strike was in response to MHPS's parent company Downer Group's proposal of a 10 per cent wage cut for some workers.

Mr Golby hoped the stop- work action would encourage Downer to "negotiate in good faith".

He said the company's last proposal included a wage cut of 10 per cent for non-tradespeople, and 7.5 per cent for semi-skilled employees, including riggers, crane drivers and scaffolders.

He said the company also wanted to increase the working week from 36 hours to 38 hours.

"All the workers want is no loss of current terms and conditions... they don't want to go backwards," Mr Golby said.

He said the company said the reason for the wage cut was the MHPS contractors were "too expensive".

"But their clients are multinationals including Rio Tinto (part-owner of QAL), and big coal companies at QNP and the power industry ... so that speaks for itself," he said.

The Observer approached Downer for comment on its proposal, but the company did not respond to the union's claims.

A spokesperson said the company respected the right of employees to take industrial action.

"(We) encourage union representatives to continue discussions in good faith," the spokesperson said.

They said the industrial action at Callide Power Station had minimal impact on the major overhaul begun and no impact on electricity generation.

Mr Golby said some QAL union members who were unable to strike for 48 hours hoped to instead stop work intermittently throughout a day next week.

He said a meeting had been scheduled with MHPS and Downer for Friday to discuss the enterprise bargaining agreement.