|Issue No 85||23 February 2001|
Locked Out, ‘Cause The Boss Won’t Talk
Australian bosses are increasingly using the lockout as an industrial tactic in their fight against their own workforce, and the unions they join.
In the past twelve months there have been a number of high-profile lockouts including the six-month lockout of Joy Mining Machinery workers in Moss Vale.
Now paintworkers in NSW and Queensland, members of the LHMU, have been locked out of their jobs for eleven days by their employer, Mirotone, an Australian coating paints company.
The LHMU has been conducting a successful Paint Industry campaign for the last year with deals now signed with most of the major paint companies - including Taubmans and Wattyl.
" Mirotone has drastically ramped up this dispute by taking such a provocative act against LHMU members who were eager to make a deal," Cheryl Hyde, LHMU Assistant National Secretary, said today.
" Mirotone has never been a site where we have had huge disputes but the company seems to have imbibed the Reith rhetoric, adopted the Reith tactics, and decided to declare war on its workers."
The LHMU received Mirotone's lockout notice at lunch-time on Thursday saying all workers at the Revesby, NSW, and Wacol, Queensland, sites would be locked out of their jobs till 6am Monday, March 5.
The LHMU has already expressed concern about what it views to be coercive acts by the company. LHMU members have been trying to make a deal with company for more than three months.
" Our members are appalled by the company's action in threatening two members at Revesby, one a union delegate, by telling them they would either have to accept poorly-paid staff jobs or accept the sack. We think this constitutes coercion.
" The union is therefore considering taking legal action against the company. Normally companies complain to courts that it is workers and their unions involved in coercion - we are prepared to argue there is a clear case that here it is the other way round.
" Mirotone is pushing for an end to the 35 hour week which has been standard in the paint industry for many years. It has been an entitlement since the early 1980s. Now the company wants to destroy it," Cheryl Hyde said.
" Our members have consistently rejected a sell-out of the 35 hour week. They currently enjoy a nine day fortnight. The company wants to abolish that and make people work a 10 day fortnight with a 38.88 hour week."
The LHMU has been trying to negotiate a new enterprise agreement since November last year. The company refused to meet with the union until it was threatened with protected industrial action.
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Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005