Al­coa strik­ers vote against pro­posed EBA

Southern Telegraph - - News - Stu­art Hor­ton

Work­ers at Al­coa’s WA op­er­a­tions have voted to re­ject a pro­posed new en­ter­prise bar­gain­ing agree­ment and con­tinue their month-long strike.

Aus­tralian Work­ers Union WA branch pres­i­dent Andy Hack­ing said about 80 per cent of work­ers voted against Al­coa’s pro­posed agree­ment af­ter last Thurs­day’s dead­line passed.

An Al­coa spokes­woman said given the out­come of the vote, Al­coa wel­comed an alternative pro­posal from the AWU that sup­ported the es­tab­lish­ment of a com­pet­i­tive agree­ment that would en­sure well-paid lo­cal jobs for years to come.

“We un­der­stand and are con­cerned by the im­pact the con­tin­ued and un­nec­es­sary in­dus­trial ac­tion is hav­ing on our em­ploy­ees. We in­vite them back to work so they can re­store their liveli­hoods while we work to bring this mat­ter to a res­o­lu­tion,” she said.

AWU na­tional sec­re­tary Daniel Wal­ton and Al­coa Aus­tralia chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Michael Parker met on Fri­day about restart­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mr Hack­ing said mem­bers had heard back late on Fri­day af­ter­noon that the ne­go­ti­at­ing teams planned to meet this week and there was recog­ni­tion from both sides the on­go­ing in­dus­trial ac­tion was hurt­ing all par­ties.

“All in­di­ca­tions from the meet­ing were there was a recog­ni­tion that both the busi­ness and em­ploy­ees are start­ing to hurt from this and it’s time to get crack­ing and sort it out,” he said.

“The AWU has again writ­ten to Al­coa say­ing it’s avail­able any time to get what needs to be done, done.

“By law they now have to get back in the ne­go­ti­at­ing room and talk, which is what we wanted all along. When they hear a ‘no’ from 80 per cent of their most valu­able as­sets, that should be enough to make them re­alise they made a mis­take and to get back to ne­go­ti­at­ing so they can get peo­ple back to work.”

Mr Hack­ing also said the strike had rein­vig­o­rated the union movement and a new gen­er­a­tion of union­ists had been ‘cul­ti­vated’ as a re­sult of the month-long ac­tion.

“The pick­ets have been go­ing 24/7 through­out and there’s no doubt fam­i­lies are hurt­ing but we’re de­ter­mined to get a rea­sona- ble deal,” he said. “But what we’ve seen through this strike is the cul­ti­vat­ing of a new gen­er­a­tion of union mem­bers who will stand up when they see some­thing is wrong. Com­mu­nity support has been over­whelm­ing, as­ton­ish­ing . . . support is get­ting big­ger, from the com­mu­nity and other unions, and we’ll never for­get that.

“This is the first ma­jor strike here in 25 or 30 years. Peo­ple re­alise we’re good work­ing-class peo­ple tak­ing a stand, we’re not rad­i­cals.” Al­coa es­ti­mated the in­dus­trial ac­tion af­fected alu­mina pro­duc­tion at its WA re­finer­ies by about 15,000 tonnes last month.

Pic­ture: Rod Tay­lor

Kwinana’s Al­coa Re­fin­ery.

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