Al­coa work­ers take strike to Par­lia­ment

Kwinana Courier - - Front Page -

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.

Pic­ture: Jess War­riner

Al­coa work­ers Steve Har­vey from Baldivis and Andy Ran­ford from Rock­ing­ham.

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