Workers In Struggle
NTEU v Melbourne University
Casual tutoring staff at Melbourne University will finally get their stolen wages paid back to them before Christmas after a two-year, grassroots wage theft campaign.
Casual Arts Faculty tutors who have been underpaid by millions of dollars since 2014, have begun receiving their money after the resolution of a dispute between the university and the National Tertiary Education Union over the rate of repayment.
Hundreds of workers in the Engineering, Maths and Statistics Faculty have already been paid while the Fine Arts Faculty is the next in line.
La Trobe University has just announced it will begin the process of reviewing its payment practices and encouraged any casual worker who suspects they may have been underpaid to lodge a backpay claim.
AMIEU v Midfield Meats
Workers at Midfield Meats returned to work this week, after the company locked them out twice.
About 120 workers on short-term visas waited outside their workplace on Wednesday morning 16 December, to address management about an alleged altercation between a supervisor and a worker had escalated and the worker was injured on Tuesday 15 December.
The workers were asking for an assurance of a safe workplace after the incident. The group met in the car park to talk about their concerns, especially the safety issue. Then the owner asked them to go back to work in 30 minutes otherwise they will be fired. After 30 minutes the gate was locked.
On the next day, the workers entered the workplace where they were taken into the lunch room before starting work; and were addressed by management. This meeting was even worse and ended with management verbally abusing the workers followed by locking them out once again.
Although the workers were allowed to return to work after union involvement and the supervisor has been moved to another area, the dispute continues.
UWU v Melbourne Hanes Warehouse
Workers at the Melbourne Hanes warehouse, who distribute Bonds, Champion and Sheridan sheets, went on strike on 14 Dec in a fight against casualisation in the outer western Melbourne suburb of Truganina.
On 18 Dec, Hanes workers won:
• An agreement from the company that it would maintain the current number of permanent staff. This came after years and years of the permanents being replaced by labour-hire casuals; and
• A $2000 payment to be paid when the agreement is made (shortly after Christmas), plus 2% payable from 1 July 2021; and
• All of the conditions that were ripped out of their agreement were put back in!
TWU v UberEats
Five delivery riders have died in Australia since the end of September. A family of one of the riders has filed a workers’ compensation claim against Uber. But under Australian labour laws, food delivery riders are considered independent contractors, not employees.
Dede Fredy, a 36-year-old UberEats worker from Indonesia, died on 27 September after he was hit by a car in Sydney while delivering food.
Now a claim for workers’ compensation for a work-related death has been filed on behalf of his widow, Nyoman Sunarti, and their four-year old son Muhammad.
Labour law expert Joellen Riley Munton from the University of Technology Sydney said no food delivery worker had successfully claimed workers’ compensation for death in Australia, but it could be possible.
The claim was filed with the state insurer iCare on Tuesday by lawyers acting for the Transport Workers’ Union.
Worksafe v Pipecon
In December last year, Ballarat-based construction company Pipecon was committed to stand trial on charges relating to the death of two young men, and CFMMEU members, Charlie Howkins, 34, and Jack Brownlee, 21, in a trench at a Ballarat housing estate in March 2018.
Pipecon pleaded not guilty, but Magistrate Gregory Robinson found there was sufficient evidence to support conviction on both charges after a two-day contested committal hearing. This week there have been reports that the trial is not expected to start until ‘late next year’ - despite the case being classed as ‘high priority’.
Writers Guild of America-East v Spotify
At Gimlet and Ringer, two podcast companies owned by Spotify, members of the Writers Guild of America-East went on a 2-hour strike for their first union contract since the companies first unionised in 2019.
This week’s walkout “is a show of solidarity as we return to the bargaining table next week and continue to advocate for a fair contract that includes meaningful provisions on diversity, compensation, and pathways to promotion,”
South Carolina Teacher Strikes
As many school districts in the State of South Carolina are continuing in-person classes, more teachers are walking out of the classroom. It appears that a growing movement of teachers’ strikes may be intensifying after a 50-year old 3rd grade teacher Staci Blakley died on the job this week in Lexington, South Carolina, from COVID related complications. Groups like the rank-and-file organization SC for ED are now helping to organize walkouts across the state.
The Worker’s Solidarity Bulletin is a living document written to reflect what is happening within the labour movement, here in Australia and across the world. The producers of this publication, and participants in Workers Solidarity more broadly, don’t necessarily endorse or agree with all of the views in this publication. This is a place for debate and discussion.
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