A PLANNED production shutdown affecting Bendigo Thales workers will be two weeks shorter than anticipated.
The company this morning announced the shutdown in April would be limited to one week over Easter - Anzac Day.
Earlier in the week, Thales said a delay with engine supplies had extended a scheduled two-week break by a week.
"Following discussions with staff, unions and the Facilitative Consultative Committee over recent weeks Thales has decided to evaluate additional options to cope with the disruption to production schedules resulting from interruptions to Hawkei engine supply," Thales Australia today said in a statement.
"We have listened to the feedback from staff and unions and will continue to work with staff, unions and the Facilitative Consultative Committee to develop these alternatives."
An Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union spokesperson yesterday expressed concerns with the options Thales had presented staff for what was then going to be a three-week break.
Staff were instructed to use annual leave during the shutdown.
Four options were suggested for those who did not have sufficient leave. They included use of long service leave, unpaid leave, time in lieu or a leave buy-back scheme.
The AMWU spokesperson said there were many workers who did not have enough leave accrued to cover the shutdown, which was then proposed between April 8 - 26.
"It is not right to ask new employees to take unpaid time, or buy back the time, when they may not have the financial means," the spokesperson said.
"It is also not right to force workers to use their hard earned leave to cover a shortfall of the business, as many employees save up their leave so they can have holidays with their families."
The spokesperson said the union had raised its concerns with Thales and intended to seek independent arbitration to resolve the matter if it did not hear back from the company by the week's end.
The production shutdown is now scheduled for April 19 - 26. AMWU will not be pursuing independent arbitration.
Thales and the Department of Defence have sent a delegation to engage with the Hawkei engine supplier, Austrian manufacturer Steyr Motors, to 'reinforce the need for continuity of engine supply'.
The department this week said it was working with Thales on its workforce management issues, including consideration of rescheduling planned work to assist with the re-distribution of the production workload.
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