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ASC puts new pay offer on the table as unions call for executive’s head

Collins Class Submarine HMAS Sheean comes alongside Diamantina Pier at Fleet Base West. Photo: CPOIS Damian Pawlenko

Government-operated submarine builder ASC Pty Ltd has put forward a new pay offer to striking South Australian submarine workers, as unions call for the sacking of the executive.

Government-operated submarine builder ASC Pty Ltd has put forward a new pay offer to striking South Australian submarine workers, as unions call for the sacking of the executive.

ASC Pty Ltd, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, is currently facing protected industrial action from Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) of Australia workers at its Osborne Naval Shipyard.

Around 300 trades and operator support workers providing maintenance and sustainment have been taking industrial action each day for the last three weeks over the pay dispute, reportedly resulting in ongoing stoppages.


Workers in South Australia are protesting against pay discrepancy with Western Australian workers, who allegedly receive around 17 per cent on average more, despite WA ASC workers being trained in South Australia and being reportedly paid more in the process than by those training them.

AMWU SA assistant state secretary Stuart Gordon said around 300 members across the AMWU, AWU and ETU want to see ASC chief executive officer Stuart Whiley removed from his position.

“This is a 100 per cent majority no confidence vote. Workers are fed up with Stuart Whiley’s personal self-interest. His massive pay increase (allegedly 31 per cent wage increase of $250,000) has come at the sacrifice of the workforce because for years, ASC has degraded workers’ wages. He should be sacked effective immediately.

“Why is Stuart Whiley paid an eye-watering salary that is north of $1 million from public funds to oversee submarine workers who are not paid their worth despite performing critical work in maintaining Australia’s naval defence system? Workers expect the CEO to address unequal pay experienced by SA tradespeople, but he continues to shirk off his responsibilities.”

The AMWU also alleged that Whiley has not attended a single negotiation meeting despite many requests and is the highest-paid CEO of a federal public entity in Australia.

“It’s quite incredible that his total package is worth $1,084,725, and he oversees a relatively small agency compared to the other public agencies and commissions that have far greater employees and scope,” Gordon said.

“This workforce has secured the future of Australian and South Australian shipbuilding. The workers have done so through their performance and by rallying in their own time to force the government to invest in shipbuilding in Australia, while the CEO has sat back reaping the rewards.

“These workers are needed for the AUKUS arrangement with BAE Systems and ASC to be successful. Unequal pay for work that is vital for our national security is unacceptable.”

The South Australian workers are the only ones in the country able to carry out the Collins’ deep maintenance, otherwise known as a full-cycle docking, which is necessary maintenance to keep the submarines operational.

AMWU, AWU and ETU members have recently rejected the offer by ASC of 6.75 per cent which is around 11 per cent short of parity with their counterparts in Western Australia.

ASC has reportedly presented an offer to the unions and its members that would provide an average increase of 12 per cent at the commencement of the agreement, with further opportunities for the employees to achieve additional increases through arbitration by the Fair Work Commission.

The shipbuilder has publicly stated that it has not threatened its workers with dismissal and is disappointed by recent comments against the executive that are not conducive to bargaining in good faith.

“I have complete trust in my executive team’s ability to undertake these negotiations with the AMWU. This is a normal and acceptable position for a large company such as ours,” managing director and chief executive officer Stuart Whiley said.

“While I do not attend these negotiations, I am fully briefed on the outcomes and will continue to work collaboratively with the executive team towards achieving a mutually beneficial outcome for ASC, the AMWU and its members.”

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