Strike goes national after negotiations fail

More than 80 percent of NCR technicians nationally have gone on strike today following failed attempts to negotiate a pay rise that keeps track with inflation.

The Australian Services Union (ASU) said 50 workers in NSW, representing 90 percent of the state's technicians, 30 in South Australia and 20 in Queensland, have stopped work. Meanwhile, staff in Victoria and Western Australia are also considering strike action for later in the week.

ASU secretary Sally McManus said companies feeling the impact represent 90 percent of the ATM market as well as 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. "The strike is happening because management has no plans to negotiate and is not moving from offer of 3 percent wage increase, 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;, their wages have gone backwards against the CPI. The average wage rate is $33,000 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 actions -- discussions haven't got them any further.

"If the companies don't move, the members are talking about an indefinite stoppage. If it [the company] is prepared to negotiate we are prepared to sit down at any time."

An NCR spokesman claimed fewer numbers were affected. "We have about 150 staff service engineers, of that about 50 are taking part; it is confined to NSW, Queensland and SA. NSW 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."

NCR has sent new proposals to each individual worker. "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," he said. "We have been negotiating in good faith since December -- unfortunately, every offer is met with a new set of claims from the union; by going directly to them we hope to get a swift resolution. We are giving them till March 27 to respond."

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