STRIKE: Unions and M'boro timber giant at loggerheads
INDUSTRIAL action has been taken against one of the region's largest employers following claims by three workers' unions that negotiations on a new enterprise agreement have hit a dead end.
Maintenance and production staff went on strike yesterday claiming the Maryborough mill would cut conditions for future employees if the proposal remained unchanged.
Members of the Electrical Trades Union, Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union and Construction Forestry Energy Mining Maritime Union stopped work for a 24-hour period.
Negotiations over the Queensland EA, which applies to about 250 employees including workers at the Tuan Forest mill, have been on-going since February.
While representatives from Hyne Timber say the company is negotiating in good faith including a 2.5 per cent pay rise, the unions maintain they are frustrated by a proposal creating a two-tier workforce.
Hyne Timber, who employ about 300 workers in Maryborough, says there are already different conditions for different roles, duties and areas which date back many years.
A company spokeswoman said there were 30 people involved in the strike yesterday morning, which meant an estimated 10 per cent of those involved in enterprise agreement negotiations across the state participated in the industrial action.
Standing at loggerheads, ETU's Dan Bessell claimed 70 striking workers, about half the mill's workforce, were present.
Mr Bessell said the new EA would mean existing employees retained benefits but new employees would have cuts to lunch break and overtime entitlements.
"This isn't about money or workers being greedy it's about maintaining and handing down good conditions of employment to our next generation," he said.
"The people that work here in the future may be your sons and daughters in this community.
"Some people have worked here for 20 years or more and have never had to resort to this action to protect conditions."
A spokeswoman for the privately-owned company said Hyne Timber remained committed to keeping the conditions of existing employees, a position "the company has taken for many years, provided of course employees want them grandfathered".
"In the interests of our company values, we are proposing to make such varying conditions clearer and more transparent," she said.
Hyne Timber confirmed unlike the past their spot at the negotiating table had been replaced by a industrial relations consultant. A Hyne Timber spokeswoman said the next EA meetings would be held at the Tuan Mill next week on August 5.