Williamstown Railyard workers win fight against casualisation

More than 70 ETU members at the Williamstown Railyard, together with their colleagues from other unions on site have struck a blow against casualisation, reaching an in-principle agreement that brings a long-running dispute to an end.

The workers are employed by Downer Group to work on the Evolution Rail consortium’s High Capacity Metro Trains project. They have been engaged in negotiations with Downer Group over their next EBA since February 2020.

The main sticking point in negotiations had been the issue of casualisation. There are currently 32 fixed-term workers on contracts plus a number of casual workers at the site. Over the last year, 15 full-time workers have left the project, but none of the contract workers have been converted to full-time.

The unions demanded a clause in the EBA that converts fixed-term workers to full timers in order to address the issue. Downer initially refused to accept this claim, but the unions dug in for a fight. In reaching an in-principle agreement with the company, ETU members have won an important battle in the fight against casualisation in the rail industry.

“Members have been strongly in support of this position throughout this campaign. They have seen their workmates miss out on full-time work and were left to wonder if they would have a job in six months’ time. The Metro Tunnel project is staffed by full-timers, and now more of the people who are building the trains that will run through those tunnels will be too,” Organiser Aaron Douglass told us.

This article was publised on 22 June 2021.