none

SACKING STRIKING STAFFER CAUSES STRIFE

08-08-2017
by 
in 

In response to the sacking of an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) delegate for "organising illegal industrial action", just over 70 workers have chosen to continue their strike and refuse to return to work at a Dandenong plant. 

All of the striking workers are members of the AMWU, and have been feeling under threat by a series of provocative actions taken by their management in the weeks before the delegate was sacked.

Visy, the worlds’ largest privately owned packaging and paper company, is owned by Anthony Pratt, a member of one of Australia’s wealthiest families. Visy has a history of taking a tough stance with unionised workers, and this situation is proving to be no exception. 

The dispute began when workers at Visy in Dandenong were told there would be changes to their drug and alcohol policy. These changes appeared to be made without consultation, and workers were not given the opportunity to give input into these new policy changes. 

According to workers, this was just the latest in a line of decisions aimed at promoting "cultural change" in the workforce. The workers, about 40% of whom are of Albanian background, say they do not know what “culture” management wants to change. Often, such statements are made aroun "safety culture", where employees are encouraged to be proactive and become invested in appropriate health and safety practices. 

The Dandenong workers have voiced concerns that the phrase may in fact simply mean transferring more power to management. At another plant a few weeks earlier, an area manager is alleged to have assaulted a worker and a lower level manager. While there was an investigation, the area manager was not stood down and no action was ever taken, raising concerns about accountability and worker power. 

Dandenong is one of Visy’s most profitable plants and had been working at full capacity. On July 26 Visy sought and won interim orders from the Fair Work Commission that directed the workers to cease all forms of industrial action, including overtime bans.

The workers complied with these orders but then two AMWU delegates were stood down for organising “illegal industrial action”.

A worker anonymously told Green Left Weekly: “We were not going to stand for this as there is a track record here of sacking delegates after they’ve been stood down. So at a mass meeting on July 31, we decided to cease work.”

About 70 workers maintain a peaceful presence outside the front gate. They told Green Left Weekly that scabs have been brought in from South Australia, NSW and Queensland, but they cannot operate the technically specific machines used in this workplace. Consequently the plant is now only producing enough material for 10 trucks each day instead of 80.

As the strike continues, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how Visy is likely to resolve the issue. 

Related news & editorials

  1. 16.08.2018
    16.08.2018
    by      In
    Following extensive growth of the business, Beacon Solar (a division of Beacon Lighting Group) has changed its business (trading) name to Beacon Energy Solutions.
    Beacon Solar has been in the energy efficiency/solar market for more than 10 years, with the business initially offering residential... Read More
  2. 15.08.2018
    15.08.2018
    by      In
    BHP’s new $4.8 billion South Flank iron ore mine in the Pilbara is expected to create about 2500 jobs during construction and 600 ongoing roles. But local fabricators are quire rightly up in arms about the company’s decision to award the contract for 20,000 tonnes of structural steel work to... Read More
  3. 14.08.2018
    14.08.2018
    by      In
    The former Trade Commissioner of Denmark to Australia and New Zealand, Michael T Hansen has been named General Manager of Nilfisk in Australia.
    Originally from Denmark, Hansen has more than 25 years of experience in business development and sales.
    Over the last 9 years as Trade Commissioner, Hansen... Read More
  4. 14.08.2018
    14.08.2018
    by      In
    World-renowned physicist Dr Cathy Foley has been named CSIRO Chief Scientist with a brief to help champion science, its impact and contribution to the world. Dr Foley is best known for her work developing superconducting devices and systems that have assisted in unearthing over $6 billion in... Read More