Staff to go on strike at Australian deep-space communication station over pay dispute

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/11/22 13:08:33

Staff at Australia's Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex will walk off the job on Wednesday over a pay dispute.

The station is one of the three around the world that is linked to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Deep Space Network.

The network of stations provide two-way radio communication with more than 30 NASA spacecraft, including missions to study Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Pluto, the sun and the moon.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, 45 kilometers southeast of Canberra in Tidbinbilla, is administered by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) but funded by NASA.

The CSIRO wants to sign the station's 70 staff to a new Australian Commonwealth enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA), a move which has been rejected by the staff.

Mick Koppie, organizer for the Electrical Trades Union in Canberra, said the proposal from CSIRO is to decimate the staff's existing US EBA.

The US bargaining agreement regulates an annual pay rises of 2.8 percent for the CSIRO staff, while the proposed agreement only caps pay rises at two percent.

"Despite the fact that not one cent of funding for the Tidbinbilla deep space complex comes from the Commonwealth government, workers have been told ... they need to be covered by the restrictive wages policy," said Koppie.

During the strike, rather than the site being shut down, staff at one of the sister stations in California will work overtime to keep it operational.


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