Legal action over illegal Bluescope strike could doom AWU branch

Bluescope Steel is suing the Wollongong Australian Workers Union branch for an unauthorised strike in May, with the branch saying if the action was successful it would likely mean the end.

The ABC reports that the May 26 Spring Hill branch 24-hour strike could have been worth as much as $2.4 million in lost product and production costs. According to Wayne Phillips, Port Kembla South Coast and Southern Highlands Branch secretary, workers had sought a meeting with management but calls were not returned.

The matter has been lodged in the Federal Court.

Phillips said he knew the strike was illegal under the Fair Work Act, but members were “fed up” and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the strike. If Bluescope’s action is successful, it would cause the branch to fold, he said.

“[Management] just continually attack. There’s over 24 casuals working on site yet at the same time they are reducing numbers, he told the ABC.

“I just hope someone in management sits back and says, ‘What are we doing to upset our workforce this much that there would be a walk off the job when that hasn’t happened here for years?’”

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