Workers plan to walk off the job at Infrabuild steel mills in Newcastle today

The Australian Workers Union (AMU) says employees at two Newcastle steel mills today are walking off the job for the first time in 30 years.

Workers at InfraBuild’s Newcastle Rod Mill and AusTube Mills will walk off the job at midday for two hours – the union said the unprecedented industrial action is over management’s refusal to offer pay rises that come close to keeping pace with the cost of living.

AWU NSW Branch Secretary Tony Callinan said InfraBuild’s uncompetitive wage offer failed to keep pace with the cost of living and was rejected by 85 per cent of the workforce at the Newcastle Rod Mill and 91 per cent of the workforce at AusTube Mills.

“It is important that management understands this action will persist until our members are offered a fair and reasonable wage increase.

“At the Newcastle Rod Mill we have been encouraged by InfraBuild’s recent movement in negotiations, but our members are adamant that wage increases should be made into base wages and not structured as bonuses. At AusTube Mills we remain concerned about the erosion of a range of conditions from the current enterprise agreement.

“Other businesses in Newcastle, such as Tomago Aluminium and UGL, have recognised the challenges posed by the rising cost of living. In their recent enterprise agreements, they have provided a substantial six per cent increase in the first year to acknowledge the pressing concerns of their employees. We believe InfraBuild should consider similar measures.

“Our collective commitment to securing a fair and just outcome for the hardworking individuals at the Newcastle mills remains steadfast.”

An InfraBuild spokesperson said they have been negotiating in good faith.

“InfraBuild has been negotiating in good faith with the Unions and Delegates and will continue to do so. We have offered a substantial package with a 12% increase to base pay over three years as well as increases to shift loadings, bonus payment systems and superannuation.”

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