Locked-out energy workers plan rally

A group of operators who have been locked of Yallourn Power Station since June will rally outside of Energy Australia’s headquarters in Melbourne on Friday.

The CFMEU and Energy Australia have been involved in an industrial dispute for over 12 months, with 75 workers locked out of the power station in June after the operators begun industrial action in the form of limiting power output.

More than 30 CFMEU members have since set up camp outside the power station.

CFMEU Victorian district president, Luke van der Meulen, said that the lockout has galvanised wide public and union support.

"We have had great public support and the solidarity we have received from CFMEU and other union members throughout Australia has been inspiring,” van der Meulen said.

"The company has pursued a hard line throughout the past year. It reneged on a previous commitment to improve conditions. It dramatically escalated the dispute rather than listening to the views of their workers.”

van der Meulan previously told Australian Mining the dispute centred around new enterprise agreements.

“It’s about dispute clauses, rosters and operational structure,” he said.

 “The workforce is angry that Energy Australia is not taking the conciliation process seriously – now the company is dramatically escalating the dispute rather than listening to the views of their workers and making them an acceptable employment offer in line with industry standards.”

Energy Australia's Michael Hutchinson told the ABC the union can apply to terminate the lockout through the Fair Work Commission.

Terminating the lockout would start 21 days of negotiations and if an agreement is not reached, the dispute  would be settled through arbitration.

Hutchinson says the workers will stay locked out until an agreement is reached.

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