AWU members voting on new Alcoa EBA, threat of more industrial action

Negotiations: Australian Workers Union members will vote on a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement this week.
Negotiations: Australian Workers Union members will vote on a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement this week.

Australian Workers Union members employed at Alcoa are voting this week on whether or not to accept a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement offer from the company, with the potential for more industrial action on the cards.

About 1600 workers from the multinational organisation’s Pinjarra, Kwinana, Wagerup, Huntly and Willowdale facilities were on strike for 52 days in August and September as they looked to ensure long-term job security, before ending their stand-off with the company late last month and returning to work.

However, the issue looks set to come to a head again this week, with the AWU members’ vote on whether to accept to new EBA closing on Thursday.

As such, Alcoa will know the result before the end of the week.

The Mail can reveal the AWU has lodged an intention to undertake further industrial action with the Fair Work Commission, with this proposed to start on Thursday.

However, Alcoa have challenged the union’s right to file for industrial action and a hearing at the Fair Work Commission is underway on Wednesday.

AWU members are expected to use the start of the industrial action to join representatives from other unions at a Change the Rules rally in large numbers on Thursday, with a protest to take place at Solidarity Park in Perth.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus will speak at the event, which is the first of 21 rallies across the country aimed at forcing the government to change employment legislation to protect workers.

Alcoa confirmed the AWU vote would close on Thursday but declined to comment on whether it had received notification of potential industrial action and would not be drawn on resignations from, and disciplinary action against, returning workers.

Alcoa have tried to terminate the current EBA through the Fair Work Commission, but deputy president Abbey Beaumont is yet to hand down a determination after a four-day legal process back in September.

Possible outcomes from the AWU vote this week

If AWU workers vote to accept the new EBA offer, which includes job-security measures around forced redundancies, the agreement will be endorsed for the next three years.

If AWU workers vote to decline the new EBA offer, the union and Alcoa will have six months to negotiate a new agreement.

If AWU workers vote to decline the new EBA offer and the Fair Work Commission back Alcoa’s efforts to terminate the current agreement, employees could be forced to accept vastly diminished terms and pay rates.