Workers In Struggle
MUA v Patrick Stevedores
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members at Patrick Stevedores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle will take protected industrial action following more than 18 months of negotiations over a new enterprise agreement (EA).
MUA Assistant National Secretary Jamie Newlyn said management at Patricks had made a series of exaggerated and untrue claims about the breakdown of talks over a new agreement and instead of suggesting Christmas was at risk, the company should stop trying to alarm the public.
“The truth is there is ample capacity for other stevedoring companies on the Australian waterfront to load and unload cargo and we don’t accept that there is any threat that imported goods will be in short supply due to the commencement of protected industrial action by our members,” Mr Newlyn said.
Mr Newlyn said Patrick had claimed they would “roll-over” the existing EA but had insisted on changes that their workforce would not accept including increased casualisation that would limit future secure employment opportunities.
Despite claiming a loss of market share, Patrick are recording record profits by price-gouging through Terminal Access Charges and other shipping fees which are adding to the cost of goods for customers and Australian consumers.
Mr Newlyn said instead of engaging in exaggerated PR ‘spin’ Patrick should return to the bargaining table and conclude a fair and equitable agreement with its workforce.
TWU StarTrack Workers v Australia Post
On 23 September the Transport Workers Union (TWU) announced that a strike of 2,000 FedEx workers after 97 per cent of the union’s members voted in favour of the industrial action.
The stoppage is in response to failed negotiations between workers and the logistics giant, in which StarTrack refused workers’ calls for job security guarantees following a surge in outsourcing rates as high as 70 per cent in some yards.
The TWU says talks broke down when FedEx rejected demands for caps on outside hire and for existing employees to be guaranteed work before contracting out.
Michael Caine from the TWU said:
“If FedEx had no plans to outsource work, they would have given a commitment on day one. Workers shouldn’t have been put in the position of choosing between strikes and signing a shoddy agreement which would see their jobs shipped out to the lowest bidder.”
RBTU v NSW State Government
The RBTU NSW branch is running a campaign of protected action which started earlier in the month with sounding of the train whistles on Sept 9 in response to management’s refusal to provide workers with fair wages and conditions.
Trains were stopped from sounding their whistles approximately five years ago in response to noise complaints.
The protected industrial action is the first in a long list of actions being taken over the coming month as part of RTBU members’ action against the NSW Government’s refusal to provide them with a fair enterprise agreement.
RTBU NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, said Sydney and NSW Trains management are refusing to budge in current negotiations on crucial issues such as safe cleaning of our trains.
“All we’re asking for is safety and security for workers and the travelling public. We can’t sit back and let the government put workers and the community at risk.
“After the government heaped rail workers with praise for putting themselves and their families in harm’s way during Covid to keep the community moving, we’ve now entered EBA negotiations and any notion of goodwill has completely disappeared.”
AMWU v Cadbury Chocolates
Cadbury workers across two sites in Melbourne have taken strike action in a call for secure jobs, and better pay and conditions. The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) says nearly 360 Cadbury workers have been forced to take strike action after the company delayed converting them to permanent roles, some for as long as ten years.
While chocolate sales have gone through the roof during the COVID-19 pandemic, the essential food workers who’ve kept Australia stocked up on chocolate are being left behind without secure jobs, and decent pay and conditions.
The AMWU says some workers have been in casual roles at Cadbury for up to ten years and the global confectionery giant is refusing to make them permanent.
Workers went on strike from Friday 17 September until early Saturday morning and refused to work any overtime hours until Monday 20 September in their call for secure jobs, and better pay and conditions.
AMIEU v Coles Supermarkets
The Australasian Meat Industries Employees Union (AMIEU) reports that after months of uncertainty, Coles Supermarkets have announced it will make all its in-store butchers and meat packers redundant from 11 October 2021. Coles has decided to use pre-packaged products in all stores.
Acting Federal Secretary of the AMIEU, Matt Journeaux, said product knowledge will disappear and workers who had provided decades of loyal service will be thrown on the scrap heap. Nationally, more than 1570 Meat Team Members will be offered a redundancy or alternative work for far less than their current salaries.
“These workers kept meat on your tables throughout this pandemic and this is how they are treated,” Mr Journeaux said.
“This is a move that might save money and put more profit in shareholders’ pockets but does very little for consistency of product, quality and customer service that Coles promotes in its advertising.”
Mr Journeaux said butchering is a trade and in-store Coles butchers have completed an apprenticeship and have extensive product knowledge.
“Butchers and meat packers inform customers on the best cut of meat for a particular recipe and how to cook and prepare and handle that meat.
“All that will be gone as Coles will now have its product processed at a third-party facility and will be brought to the store either gas flushed or cryovaced,” he said.
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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