Rally in Sale on Friday

THE protest outside of the Longford Gas Plants is continuing, with a rally planned for Friday through the streets of Sale.

Union organisers will lead a march from the Sale Angling Club on Punt Lane about 11am, heading down Raymond St.

Afterwards, there will be a barbecue and speeches from union secretaries at the Angling Club.

On and offshore maintenance workers are protesting a new enterprise agreement from UGL subsidiary MTCT, which they say they did not approve.

The new contract would cut pay, benefits and allowances by 30 per cent, and affect rosters.

The AWU’s Jeff Sharp said there was plenty of community support for the protest, and the march was about engaging with shopkeepers who would be affected by the new enterprise agreement for contractors.

“Towns need workers to be spending in their local community,” he said.

“There’s already been about 400 jobs removed from this area, and (the agreement) will decimate the town.

“We hope to get UGL to come to the table and achieve an appropriate agreement.”

A letter distributed to employees from gas plant manager David Anderson said any rostered employees seen at the rally would face potential disciplinary action “up to and including termination”, and those not rostered on were “strongly recommended” to avoid the area.

An Esso spokesperson said temporary fences and carpark gates had been installed to protect workers because of “concerns about harassment and intimidation”.

“It is extremely disappointing that we need to put such measures in place while unions attempt to interfere and impact our operations by contesting a lawful and market-driven change in our general maintenance contractor,” they said.

“Our most important consideration is the safety of our people and the continued, safe operation of our plant to meet the energy needs of our customers.

“We urge the parties involved to end the union protest and not interfere with people’s right to work.

“We also urge parties involved to respect individuals’ rights and not resort to bullying and harassment.”

Mr Sharp defended naming workers who did sign the agreement, and said the protest was law-abiding.

“(They are) people who are prepared to sell their conditions down the drain for short term gain,” he said.

Mr Sharp said the protesters had been meeting with police to ensure they were protesting legally, and denied there was any harassment, noting that the fences were installed after police asked protesters to move.

Gippsland Senior
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