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Australia's Desalinization Plant Workers in Industrial Dispute

Victoria state’s troubled Wonthaggi desalination project in Melbourne has undergone its most bitter industrial dispute yet, with a proposal for forced lay-offs sparking an unlawful sudden strike this past weekend amid union allegations of management provocation.

The Wonthaggi desalination project, Victoria’s largest infrastructure project remained partially stalled on 19 June despite Fair Work Australia ordering more than 1,000 striking construction workers to return to their jobs, The Age reported.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union representatives told the employees to prepare for a major labor disruption and union representatives speaking off the record stated that unless the dispute was resolved quickly, it was likely to widen and involve picket lines.

The Wonthaggi desalination project strike began after a breakdown in management discussions with the union over how the firing of approximately 180 workers would be handled along with the proposed dismissal of a safety representative.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union  Victoria state secretary Bill Oliver accused the project’s builder, Thiess Degremont, of being ''deliberately provocative'' by insisting on forced layoffs, including that of a safety representative.

Thiess Degremont spokesman Serena Middleton countered that the layoffs were ''fair and simple'' before adding, ''The most highly skilled and motivated employees will stay the longest to ensure that the project is delivered safely and successfully.''

By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com



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