Bluescope offers staff pay rise to end four-year freeze

BlueScope’s general manager of manufacturing, Dave Bell, said the company was pleased with the ‘show of hands’ by employees to agree to the enterprise agreement offer.

“We believe the combination of locking in pay rises for the next three-years as well as sharing in BlueScope’s profits via our Profit Share Plan, is a great outcome for everyone involved,” Mr Bell said.

“We now look forward to formalising the vote in the coming weeks and focusing on making great quality Australian steel products.”

Australian Workers Union NSW branch senior vice president Paul Farrow said the in principle enterprise agreement would go to a formal vote in coming weeks before the Fair Work Commission considered giving it final approval.

Mr Farrow said the outcome was “bittersweet” because workers had not expected to have to fight so hard for a pay rise after accepting a pay freeze for three years as a sign of goodwill.

“That was a significant decision taken by our members to keep the lights on,” he said.

“Given the return to profitability following that, to the point where they are making $1.6 billion, we would have hoped it would be an easier negotiation than what it has proved to have been.

“We’ve been negotiating for over 12 months and engaged in an industrial action campaign for the last seven months.”

AWU national secretary Daniel Walton said “even when the circumstances are exceptional, as they were at Bluescope, you can never rely on a fair deal to be simply handed over”.

“Bargaining is necessary, and sometimes that bargaining process is long and painful,” he said.

Mr Walton said the decision by steelworkers to accept a pay freeze in 2015 was “courageous, and their decision this time around to dig in and fight was courageous too”.

Anna Patty is Workplace Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald. She is a former Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter. Her reports on inequity in schools funding led to the Gonski reforms and won her national awards. Her coverage of health exposed unnecessary patient deaths at Campbelltown Hospital and led to judicial and parliamentary inquiries. At The Times of London, she exposed flaws in international medical trials.

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