Over 400 ETU and CEPU members all around Australia employed by company Spotless/Downer are taking industrial action in their fight for a National Maintenance agreement with better wages and conditions.
The Union has been in negotiation with Downer Group, the parent company of Spotless Group Holdings for over six months. The union seeks a 6% pay rise per annum, plus other improvements which still doesn’t keep up with inflation hitting above 8%.
Downer is instead offering 3% and 4% pay rises, a significant pay cut in real terms.
Up and down the country, from Townsville to Adelaide, members have taken protected action to keep the negotiations going and achieve a good outcome for their agreement. Their employer has so far tried to avoid making a deal with its workers. Downer had to be forced to the bargaining table initially by the threat of legal action from the Union.
ETU members at Townsville Lavarack Barracks and RAAF base took protected industrial action and rallied outside with union flags.
In Sydney, ETU members working on service contracts at Myer and the International Convention Centre stopped work for several hours. This week they’ve engaged in overtime bans between 27th February to 5th March. The number of members has grown with more taking Protected Industrial Action.
Sparkies servicing two military bases near Wagga took action with ETU members at defence facilities in Canberra to follow suit next week.
CEPU SA members in South Australia rallied outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH), where they were joined by United Workers Union members also employed by Spotless/Downer. These members provide maintenance at the hospital, university, and rail network. The union has aimed to minimise the impact of industrial action at this site on the people using the hospital, university, or rail network.
“But if this dispute drags on, the longer it goes on, the more impact it will have on the maintenance that’s done at the RAH,” CEPU SA Organiser Paul Scudds told the media.
Union members have so far been creative and willing to take action in various ways. Members have shown great solidarity with their comrades across the country, sharing tips and advice on their workplace protected action.
“Our members are ensuring that Spotless and Downer sit up and take notice of its workforce, and think twice about taking them for granted,” said ETU National Assistant Secretary David Mier.
“It’s time they came to the table with a real offer, not a pay cut, otherwise this industrial action is just the beginning.”