Note Printing strike delays new banknote

Note Printing strike delays new banknote
Union says banknote and passport production affected, movement on negotiations with hope for resolution next week

The AMWU says delayed production has slowed the the rollout of Australia’s new banknotes, with the employees at Note Printing Australia continuing to take industrial action for almost two months.

Staff are demanding domestic violence leave, a pay rise, a resolution to classification structures, and a path for casuals to be made permanent. The union says the strike has also affected passport production, which the Craigieburn, Victoria based site is also responsible for.

The new $50 note had been planned to start circulating in October.

Michael Bull, organiser, Print Division, AMWU, says, “We have had one stoppage, but most of the campaign is based around bans.

“There are different bans and limitations at the moment, including on overtime, and certain software.

“They are trying to get a new series of banknotes, which has been stymied throughout the ban.

“They were going to be cranking up a big operation, which the ban on overtime has slowed down. They are feeling the heat, the production has slowed down a lot, my gut feeling is that is part of the reason we are getting closer in negotiations.

“The other affected area is passports, not just banknotes. I presume there is a backlog of passports that need to be printed, because everything has slowed down a lot.

“There is no indication between the bans effect of overseas and Australian banknotes.

“At one stage, the company was not talking to us at all, but now they are talking to us more. There is movement on both sides, and we are getting closer.

“The members are asking for a 4 per cent pay rise, but they have offered 2.5 per cent. There is movement on both sides with that figure.”

[Related: Note Printing staff await response]

Note Printing Australia is owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). In February, the head of the RBA, Philip Lowe, had called for businesses to give their workers a 3.5 per cent pay rise, saying that would more accurately reflect inflation rates. The average annual national wage rise is currently two per cent.

Bull says, “If someone suffers from domestic violence, they need access to leave. Management has offered personal leave, but we have requested non-accumulative leave.

“With our proposal, on evidence, they could get up to 20 days, but the company is offering no days.

“We think it does not send a very good message. We are not saying it will ever been accessed by most workers, but it sends a good message to the community that it is there for those who need it.

“Workers which have been with the company for eight years are still casuals. We want to see a pathway for workers to become permanent employees after six months.

“We also need to get classifications sorted, there is a review which has been going on for 12 months.

“The workers are all going home, and I have never seen them so unified. We have never had this situation before, in the past management has been communicative to the workers and themselves.

“They have a new line of management, and their communication skills are appalling, which has upset the balance of things, whereas the previous management was approachable, would sit down and discuss everything.

“The new management is standoffish, which has not helped the situation at all.

“ I am hopeful it will be resolved following the big meeting planned for next week.”

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