Alcoa workers take strike to Parliament
MORE than 1000 Alcoa workers from Kwinana and other refineries protested over fears for job security outside Parliament House in Perth on Wednesday.
Protesters chanted “change the rules” and hundreds waved flags from 11.30am across the road from Parliament, extending their two-week industrial action.
Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) WA State Secretary Mike Zoetbrood told the Courier on August 9 the industrial action was a result of Alcoa’s application to terminate the current enterprise bargaining agreement.
He said 1600 workers at the Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup refineries and Huntley and Willowdale bauxite mines would be affected.
Mr Zoetbrood said Alcoa workers would not accept the company using the threat of termination as a means of pressuring the workforce into accepting sub-par working conditions.
“If the company will not offer workers any job security then the agreement is not worth the paper it’s written on,” he said.
Baldivis resident Steve Harvey and Rockingham resident Andy Ranford have worked at Alcoa for more than 16 years.
Mr Ranford said he had a “gutful” over Alcoa’s proposed EBA.
“What kind of country are we in where they can turn around and terminate the EBA,” he said.
Mr Harvey said the protest was a show of solidarity to keep permanent jobs and to show they were strong together.
“Who’s going to employ me if they get rid of me – I don’t want to be forced out,” he said.
State politicians showed their support at the protest, including Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston. Forrestfield MLA Stephen Price, who used to work at Alcoa, said it was extremely distressing to see so many people at the strike.
“Alcoa cannot go out and paint a false picture of what this is about – this is about job security,” he said.
An Alcoa spokeswoman said claims by the AWU that Alcoa was seeking to casualise the workforce were untrue.
“The union is seeking an absolute guarantee that employees can never be made redundant involuntarily,” she said.
“The EBA addresses job security with a range of measures including a commitment to call for voluntary redundancies first in the event changes to the workforce are required.
“It maintains many of the provisions we know our employees value, including a 36-hour work week and the opportunity to earn extra income through overtime.”
The spokeswoman said Alcoa sites would continue to operate during industrial action.
“We have not experienced any significant production impacts from the action to date and will continue to assess the situation as it develops,” she said.
Voting for the new EBA will open next week.
Alcoa workers Steve Harvey from Baldivis and Andy Ranford from Rockingham.