Strike at TasWater imminent

TASWATER employees are expected to support taking industrial action over attempts to cut back their public holiday and annual leave entitlements.

Negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement broke down on Thursday, prompting TasWater to take the matter to Fair Work Australia.

Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union state organiser Todd Lambert said the water and sewerage authority, which is owned by councils, was refusing to discuss job security matters.

Mr Lambert said the company was also trying to make employees work on Easter Tuesday, which is a public holiday for all public servants.

Field workers who perform ``on call'' duties also face losing the extra week of annual leave they have previously been awarded to compensate for the potential loss of time off.

``Union members have fought hard to secure annual leave and public holiday entitlements and we won't stand idly by while greedy company executives try and steal working people's hard earned entitlements,'' Mr Lambert said.

Unions will hold meetings with members next week to discuss their next move, but Mr Lambert said there was strong support for industrial action.

TasWater would not comment on its demands, saying only the unions had failed to present the company with a detailed log of claims including wage requests.

Acting chief executive Dean Page said negotiators had also been frustrated with tactics to unnecessarily draw out the bargaining process.

``Arrangements for meetings and items for discussion are often changed at short notice by the single bargaining unit, frustrating the good faith bargaining process,'' Mr Page said.

Professionals Australia, representing TasWater senior staff, has also attacked the company for bringing in highly paid consultants while asking managers to take $10,000 to $20,000 pay cuts.

In response, TasWater scientists, project managers, accountants, engineers, IT professionals and analysts have taken the unusual step of requesting to be covered by a single agreement instead of individual contracts.


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