||Issue No. 250||21 December 2004|
Beyond The Law
Interview: The King of Comedy
Unions: Ten Simple Rules
Politics: Rampant Indivdualism
International: Global Struggle
Economics: Cashing in the Year
History: Grass Roots
Review: Cultural Realities
The Locker Room
The Price Of Tea In China
Cry For Me, Argentina
Ho Bloody Ho
Right Is Wrong
Business As Usual
All In The Family
Swing Left Wishful Thinking
Biscuit Bosses Crumble
Workers claimed they were bullied and blocked from joining the union before they walked out and picketed the Victorian rice cracker manufacturer for 10 days.
Sakata workers also said they had been forced to work without pay after being injured at work.
"They have a right to an EBA, they have a right to feel safe at work, and they have a right to be represented by their union, and this agreement gives them all of those things," says National Union of Workers (NUW) state secretary Martin Pakula.
"I said all along that this dispute was about justice - justice for this workforce consisting largely of migrant women - and I think we have achieved that."
It took months to drag a reluctant management to the negotiating table but the negotiated agreement tackles safety concerns, labour hire and casualisation, with casuals to be offered permanency after 12 months.
Labour hire workers will be covered by special site rates.
News of the dispute at Sakata's Laverton North plant spread as far as Japan where unionists conveyed concerns to senior Sakata bosses in Japan.
"Our members really have shown that you can only push people so far before they react," says Pakula. "They have been waiting three years for this EBA, and once they had made up their mind to stand up and fight, there was no turning back.
"The past 10 days have been extremely difficult for everyone on the picket line, but there was never any suggestion that these workers would back down."
The NUW slammed the Howard government for a system that forced the workers to strike as a last-ditch effort to get the company to negotiate in good faith.
"It is ludicrous that we have an industrial relations system which forces workers to take industrial action if companies refuse steadfastly to negotiate agreements," Pakula said.
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