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Banknote printers claim they have been bludgeoned back to work

Friday, 17 August 2018
By Graham Osborne
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Note Printing Australia at Craigieburn, Victoria.

Workers at the Reserve Bank’s banknote printing business Note Printing Australia (NPA) have ended their industrial action and voted to accept a 2.5% pay increase after the company threatened an indefinite lockout, according to the AMWU.

“We came to a resolution at a mass meeting last night to accept the deal, so all the bans are now off and the workers have returned to normal duties,” says AMWU print organiser Mick Bull. “It was not a unanimous vote but it was comprehensive, with about 80% of workers in favour.

“It’s a disappointing result but we’ve been bludgeoned into accepting it after the company threatened an indefinite lockout of workers. The workers are not happy, they’re pissed off, but the company wouldn’t budge and threatened to lock out everyone indefinitely.”

In a statement, the AMWU’s head office described the agreement as a win for workers.

Union members at Note Printing Australia (NPA) are celebrating after voting up an enterprise agreement that delivers significant wins in their wages and conditions. After almost 3 months of protected action, NPA improved their offer to the workers to include: 5 days of standalone domestic and family violence leave; casual conversion changes including instantaneous conversion to permanent work for some long-term casual workers; improved consultation on contractors; and a 2.5% wage rise per year for the 3 year agreement.

AMWU Assistant State Secretary for Print Tony Piccolo hailed the workers for taking a stand for a better deal and leading the way for other workers around the country to fight for improved pay rises, secure jobs, and standalone paid family and domestic violence leave.

“It was pretty galling for the workers to hear the RBA Governor call for 3.5% pay rises in one breath and then refuse that same pay rise to their own subsidiary’s workers in the next,” he said. “Just yesterday we heard again that Australian wages are basically going backwards – not keeping up with CPI and cost of living. But in the end it wasn’t just about the pay rise. The workers were willing to accept 2.5% as long as they received the upfront domestic and family violence leave clause in their agreement and secure jobs for casual workers.

“It really shouldn’t come to this, for workers to have to strike and sacrifice a few days pay to win a fair wage rise in their agreement, when everyone agrees that Australians need a pay rise. It’s another clear-cut example of why we need to change the rules,” said Piccolo.

Note Printing Australia locked out half its work force last Friday in retaliation for ongoing industrial action by the AMWU, provoking the remaining workers to go on a one-day strike in support. The workers returned to the Craigieburn plant on Monday but had maintained work bans on overtime and software implementation in support of a pay rise of 3.5% – compared to the NPA’s offer of 2.5%.

“The deal we’ve agreed on is for a 2.5% wage increase that will be underpinned by wage indexation, so if that’s higher then we go to the higher rate,” said Bull. “At the moment, it stands at 2.1% and if it goes over 2.5% in years two and three then we will get the higher amount. We’ve also agreed on five days upfront domestic violence leave per annum and we’ve received a commitment to discuss the issue of long-term casuals, some of whom have been in the job seven or eight years.”

The AMWU negotiated a separate agreement with RBA white collar workers, mostly based in Sydney. They will receive a 2% pay rise which could increase up to 5% with bonuses.

Note Printing Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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