The stand-off between Hy-Tec Concrete & Aggregates and some of its Port Macquarie employees covered by the Transport Workers Union award looks far from over.
Seventeen employees have been involved in industrial action over the past week which has seen a lock-out, industrial action, including stop work meetings, and a hearing before the Fair Work Commission.
The only common ground between the two appears to be that the matter has been ongoing for some 18 months.
Employees say they should be paid the same amount as their Sydney counterparts, which is about $4 to $5 per hour above their current wage.
The previous agreement expired in April 2018 but remains in force while the new agreement is negotiated.
A Hy-Tec spokesperson says the enterprise agreement negotiation has been before the Fair Work Commission with the deputy president stating the wage increase claim by union members unrealistic.
"The deputy president directed the union members to submit a realistic counter offer taking into account that they should not compare wage rates in regional NSW to that of central Sydney," the spokesperson said.
The deputy president directed the union members to submit a realistic counter offer taking into account that they should not compare wage rates in regional NSW to that of central Sydney.Hy-Tec spokesperson
"The company has been subject to rolling 'notice of intention to take protected industrial action' by union members and subsequently union members have taken strike action.
"A total of 17 employees are involved in the industrial action.
"The remainder of our employees continue normal production operations," the spokesperson said.
TWU NSW Northern Sub-branch secretary Mick Forbes agreed that employees are being paid the award wage.
"The reality is that Hy-Tec pay their city workers somewhere between $4 and $5 per hour more for doing the exact same job," he said.
"We are simply saying why should regional areas be paid less.
"If anything, it is more expensive to live and work and to find jobs, in country areas.
"There is a great level of unfairness in this," he said.
Mr Forbes said Hy-Tec has yards at various geographical locations across the Mid-North Coast.
He says union members aren't taking the industrial action lightly and says the company has "chosen to lock them out".
"What could have been a couple of hours for a stop work meeting to highlight union members' concerns has led to more lock out threats," he said.
"Our members are fed up and just want fairness."
Mr Forbes said the union members were taking industrial action that is legally available to them.
The union organiser offered an olive branch urging the company to "come to its senses".
"Our members are just ordinary workers. They have family commitments, and kids and house payments to meet," he said.
"They are not asking for more than parity and fairness. We hope the company comes to its senses and we can reach an agreed outcome."
The Hy-Tec spokesperson said the company respects the rights of employees to take industrial action.
"The company is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith for a fair enterprise agreement," the spokesperson said.
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