Manufacturing News

Mass strike hits BlueScope.

Three steelworkers’ unions have declared a collective strike on BlueScope Steel.

It comes as the company posts a $1 billion annual loss.

The union officials have long been warning of strikes since February, following the slow enterprise agreement negotiations deal.

The strike would bring the steelmaking at Port Kembla to a complete stop for hours on Tuesday if the workers walk off the job, Australian Workers Union Port Kembla branch secretary Wayne Phillips said in a statement. 

Between 600 and 900 workers will to block the road outside the steelworks' northern entrance between 10am and 2pm, while afternoon and night-shift workers would go home four hours early, reports the Illawarra Mercury.

Phillips said that using mass strike for negotiation was an appropriate step as the workers had "sacrificed a hell of a lot".

"Our goal is to get our people a fair deal without doing any major damage to the company," added Phillips.

He went on to say, "we are not pursuing our [original] wage claims but we are working our backsides off to make sure that what we've got we maintain, and what we've got is not driving the company out of business”.

Apart from the high dollar, Australians less demand for Australian steel is affecting the company and industry.

The unions are ready to accept the company's pay offer of a 3 per cent increase in the first year and 2.5 per cent for the next two years from their initial proposal for 6 per cent a year.

Shifting structures at blast furnace and reducing the number of crews was also strongly opposed by the unions.

BlueScope remained unavailable for any comment publically on industrial relation matters.

“Workers were not prepared to accept attacks on their conditions, and industrial action could continue unless the company changed its position,” Brad Hattenfels, an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser, said.

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