More than 80% of Australian NCR technicians went on strike from March 13-15 following failed attempts to negotiate a pay rise that keeps track with inflation.
The Australian Services Union (ASU) says 50 workers in New South Wales, representing 90% of the state’s technicians, 30 in South Australia and 20 in Queensland stopped work on March 13.
ASU secretary Sally McManus says companies that felt the impact include Sydney Airport, Qantas, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac, Aldi supermarkets, KFC, Country Road and Apple computers.
“This industrial action has a big impact on all public schools which have Apple computers and the major universities,” she said at the beginning of last week. “The strike is happening because management has no plans to negotiate and is not moving from offer of 3% wage increase [plus] a reduction in some conditions including the allowance for driving their cars. [Technicians] can also be forced to change hours of work.
“They haven’t had a decent pay increase in the last five years,” she says. “Their wages have gone backwards against the consumer price index. The average wage rate is A$33,000 [NZ$38,000] which is bad money for the skills they have to have and they feel the only way to move large, multinational companies is this sort of industrial action — discussions haven’t got them any further.
“If the companies don’t move, the members are talking about an indefinite stoppage. If it [NCR] is prepared to negotiate we are prepared to sit down at any time.”
An NCR spokesman said at the beginning of last week that fewer staff are taking part in the strike than the ASU claims. “We have about 150 staff service engineers and of that, about 50 are taking part. It is confined to New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia. New South Wales is going out for about a week and the others three or four days. We are surprised it is going smoothly, with no hysterical instances and it is pretty good so far,” the spokesman noted.
NCR has sent new proposals to each individual worker, the company says. “They have personally been sent a letter with a fresh proposal and we are happy if they involve the union as it is their right. It is in nobody’s interest to have a protracted, drawn out thing because it affects everyone.”
“We have been negotiating in good faith since December — unfortunately, every offer is met with a new set of claims from the union.”
On March 15 the strike was called off in a gesture of what the ASU calls “good faith” in preparation for further negotiations with NCR.