Contributed from Victoria
Striking workers are holding an around-the-clock picket outside their Dandenong factory over a proposed new workplace agreement.
The Fletcher Insulation workers have been out for 5 weeks, because they believe that the glass wool company is out to undermine existing conditions and offer nothing in return.
Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) Victorian secretary Ben Davis said the Frankston-Dandenong Road company’s enterprise agreement offer was an insult to a loyal and long-serving workforce.
He said Fletcher offered no wage increase, longer hours and “slashing of conditions”.
“It defies logic that workers who have proved they are committed to the company and just months ago set new productivity records, could be treated so shabbily,” he said.
A special concern is the intention for unlimited use of casuals, for work that is usually done on overtime.
The company has also demanded no pay rise for four years, the extension of the working week by three hours, and the removal of minimum staffing levels, which is a safety issue.
“Of 90 operators at Fletcher, between 80 per cent and 90 per cent have been there for more than 13 years and there are well over 30 who have worked there for more than 30 years,” Ben Davis said.
“These are people who have built their lives around the place and certainly deserve a lot better than they have been offered.”
He said the employees stopped working at 7am on Friday 17 February and the AWU was trying to negotiate with the company.
Fletcher’s is a has been doing well and is working on a market building plan. It seems that the aim is to make the workers cover the cost for change.
Management has now applied to the Fair Work Commission to have the existing workplace agreement terminated. If this is successful, it will amount to a 50 percent pay cut.
In reaction, supporters are pulling out all stops to raise funds to make the lives of the strikers and their families a little easier.
If you wish to contribute, press on this link. Gofundme