|Issue No 8||09 April 1999|
Angry Geeks Down Mouses in Industry First
By Sally McManus
Software engineers at Toshiba walked off the job this week in what is believed to be the first strike action in the IT industry.
The Australian Services Uunion members, who develop and install the software that runs power stations in Japan, took the action after the company refused to negotiate a collective agreement.
They had been negotiating with the company for over eight months and has previously threatened such action to bring the company back to the bargaining table.
Initially they were arguing for reasonable working hours as they were often the expected to work excessive and unpaid overtime which is common complaint of IT workers. However, they had reached an agreement with the company to limit hours and to have overtime paid, and won many other improvements in conditions.
The sticking point, and the cause of the walkout, has been the form the agreement will take. Toshiba has steadfastly refused to agree to a collective enterprise agreement, offering instead individual contracts.
Members believe they have the right, just like other workers in Australia, to bargain collectively and have this recognised in an Enterprise Agreement which is easily enforceable in the Industrial Commission and safeguards future employees.
So far the company has refused to budge on this issue citing concerns that they do not want to be "the first" in this part of the IT industry to have such an agreement. ASU members felt they had hit a brick wall and on Tuesday informed the company they would not longer be "committing" software (a process that is essential if their work is to progress) to Japan unless they are prepared to reconsider. The company immediately informed that that as this is a form of industrial action, under Reith's laws, they would not be paid. This brought a swift reaction from the ASU members who "downed mouses" and walked out.
Workers returned to work the next day, but have committed to continuing the campaign for what should be the right of all workers - the right
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005