DOWN TOOLS: Power station workers walk off the job
WORKERS at the Darling Downs Power Station walked off the job today as negotiations between Origin Energy and the CFMEU take a dismal turn.
Power station employees began a four-hour work stoppage a 11am, the most severe line in the sand drawn by the CFMEU after nine months of negotiations.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland vice-president Shane Brunker warned more work stoppages could continue next week.
"They walked off the job in disgust because the company doesn't appear to be listening to their reasonable concerns," Mr Brunker said.
"Currently, workers are in effect expected to be permanently on call through hours of unpaid overtime being built into their salary.
"This model has left workers angry and burnt out. When they have a break from work, workers want to travel to the coast and spend time with their families - not hover around within range of the power station."
"Workers are willing to compromise on pay rises in order remove the system of unpaid hours owing"
"Origin Energy management seem to think they own their workforce, even when people aren't at work.
"The workforce has made it very clear that they need to see change in this area."
Negotiations had centered around fixing a work-life balance which had left workers "captive" to the power station.
Origin initiated discussions about renegotiating the agreement before it expired but 13 meetings and a formal offer, tabled by Origin in November, have yet to bring about a resolution.
"We're trying to get a nine-day fortnight for the tradesmen and the operations people have to owe the company some 28 days for free," Mr Bunker said.
"We're trying to get rid of that because people are just tied to the company, tied to the operation, they can't have any days off, can't plan anything ahead because they might get called in to work.
An Origin Energy spokesman said the company had been in discussions with employees and union bargaining representatives since mid-2018.
"We will continue to work with all parties in good faith to achieve a resolution and will reinvest in the plant to ensure its viability." he said.
An Origin statement said claims about unfair work conditions were "untrue".
"Employees are engaged under a salary package that compensates for reasonable additional hours over a year," the statement said.