||Issue No. 229||16 July 2004|
The Sins of Our Fathers
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Forgecast Reneges on Millions
One hundred and thirty workers face the loss of their jobs and up to $5.8 million in redundancy entitlements at the Forgecast factory in eastern Melbourne, despite the company having assured them their entitlements were secure, during enterprise bargaining negotiations, last year.
"We cannot rely on the word of the employer anymore," says Dave Oliver from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU). "Steps have to be taken to secure entitlements".
Workers from the Forgecast factory demonstrated outside the office of local federal Liberal MP, Phil Baressi last week, in protest against the inadequacy of the Howard Government's redundancy scheme and insolvency laws.
"The workers are very angry, says AMWU organiser Zeljko Curak. "There is not much trust in management."
"Nonetheless they are determined to fight on."
Forgecast was placed in voluntary administration under PricewaterhouseCoopers two weeks ago after losing export contracts to supply car parts to the United States.
Unions have been negotiating with administrators and other Forgecast customers in a bid to keep the company trading.
Forgecast supplies to motor vehicle component manufacturers and there is some concern that the collapse of the company may lead to stand-downs at major car manufacturing plants.
In a 'best case' scenario workers are looking at losing over 25 percent of their entitlements, with no guarantee for the remainder.
The General Employee Entitlements Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) will pay less than half of the workers' lawful entitlements.
The Australian Workers' Union National Secretary Bill Shorten said Prime Minister John Howard used taxpayers' money to pay 100% of workers' entitlements owed by his brother Stan Howard's company National Textiles in 2000, but would not even pay half of the Forgecast workers' entitlements.
"The Forgecast workers just want Mr Howard to treat them like workers in his brother's company," Mr Shorten said. "Otherwise many long-serving workers could be short-changed by tens of thousands of dollars.
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