THALES guard Peter is demanding justice from security contractor MSS.
Today marks the 50th day of protest for the 46-year-old Bendigo resident who does not wish to reveal his surname.
Peter is making a reputation for himself as Bendigo’s costume king and is this week dressed as a judge.
His previous protest attire has included Santa, chicken, clown and cowboy get-ups and, more recently, an Elvis outfit.
He spends $40 a week on costume hire and 12 hours a day – rain, hail or shine – manning a picket line outside Thales. As well, he works 14 hours a week for Thales.
His wacky costumes are all part of his ploy to raise awareness about what he describes as “unfair” pay and working conditions offered by security contractor MSS. Security guards from 36 Victorian sites, including Bendigo defence manufacturer Thales, began rolling stoppages earlier this week.
The strike action is the latest salvo in the 14-month dispute, with guards fighting for equality in pay and conditions with other big contractors such as ISS and Wilson Security. Guards employed by MSS say they are being paid at least 8 per cent behind the industry standard.
“We’ve had to vote three times on the same EBA without any changes made,” Peter said.
“I’m up to 50 days straight protest – that’s no days off.
“It’s a bit up and down at times but I’m strong. I could go another 50 quite easy.
“I’ll go for as long as the company wants to keep treating us this way.”
Peter uses his costumes to attract the attention of passing motorists but they also have special meaning. “Santa was ‘I’ll be here to Christmas’, the chicken was ‘Chicken feed pay’ and ‘Too chicken to negotiate’ and the clown represented the MSS circus.
“This week’s outfit, the judge, is about the guards demanding justice.
“Also, because of the industrial action lawyers are getting involved at the moment and it’s getting a bit serious.”
Peter’s not sure what next week’s costume will be.
He’s starting to run out of ideas and is calling on Bendigo Advertiser readers to come up with some suggestions.
People can send their suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the report button on the Bendigo Advertiser iPhone app and they will be passed on to Peter.
His 50th day on the picket line will be marked today at 3pm with a barbecue outside Thales.
“I’d like to thank the Bendigo Advertiser for its ongoing support, along with the public,” Peter said.
“I’m here from 6am to 6.30pm.
“As soon as I knock off I come straight down here.
“Any spare time I have I spend down here and when people stop and ask what I’m doing they’re quite shocked when I tell them what’s happening... I have no problem doing it because what’s happening is just so wrong.
“This is a very serious problem.”