The stakes have escalated in Nyrstar’s negotiations regarding a proposed three-year pact with workers.
The company applied last Wednesday to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement covering award workers.
It sought to revert to a mining award instead. Australian Workers Union organiser Mick Hopgood said the proposal would cut wages, terms and conditions.
He said the bid would be heard by the commission at the Port Pirie Magistrates Court on November 3.
Workers are waging an industrial campaign in support of their claims for a new agreement and Mr Hopgood said it was yet to be determined whether this would be intensified.
“We have to meet with our workforce for them to give us a direction,” he said.
“It seems to be commonplace with companies that they meet a stalemate in negotiations and they seek to terminate the EBA.”
The company had offered a four-percent wage rise in the last year of a proposed three-year agreement while the union is seeking six percent in that year.
In protest, workers walked off the job in two four-hour strikes on September 30.
“We made a commitment to keep the furnace going. We are still trying to help the company,” Mr Hopgood said.
The workers are imposing work bans, refusing staff relief, blackballing the Way We Execute Business program and banning operations overtime.
A company spokeswoman said negotiations since the start of the year had reached an “impasse” and there was no benefit in more mediation.
“The company is providing considerable investment to deliver a business transformation with the Port Pirie Redevelopment being a core part of that plan, benefitting the site and community,” she said.
“Nyrstar has made what it believes to be a very reasonable offer which includes a four-percent wage increase in July, 2019 and an incentive payment linked to successful ramp-up of the new plant within two years.”
“The unions have advised that their members have rejected this offer and will accept only a six-percent increase in July, 2019.
“The unions have not put forward any changes that would lead to productivity improvements or cost reductions for the site.”