General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

General Trade, Mining and Manufacturing

Poor performance takes the fizz out of Coke

- Wednesday, December 02, 2015

During 2014 Coca Cola experienced a substantial drop in volumes of product being manufactured, a substantially drop in profit and a dramatic drop in their Share price. ETU members have been fighting ever since – both to save jobs and to secure a decent EBA outcome.

Senior Management along with a new CEO analysed the national footprint of manufacturing plants around Australia to assess their on-going viability. The results of that review placed the Northmead Plant in NSW in serious jeopardy of plant closure displacing some 200 workers.

Negotiations for a new Supply Chain Enterprise Agreement commenced in the middle of management’s decision process, meaning, to save the plant and ETU jobs workers were faced with a wage reduction and a reduction in hours.

Initially, losses for some workers were around $20K to $25K going from 12hour shifts back to 8hr shifts and day work.

Negotiations involving all ETU Delegates in the Supply Chain managed to negotiate minimal losses for workers including redundancies, a lower set of pay rates for new starters. A zero % increase to current rates of pay for the first 18ths, with increases to rates of pay coming from reaching Production KPI targets in the last 18ths of the agreement.

Over 155 ETU members in Supply Chain, after understanding the likelihood of plant closure, voted overwhelming to accept the pain, accept the Agreement and maintain the longevity of the Production Plant.

Since their acceptance, the ETU and Management are working together to increase the volume at the Northmead Plant to recover the losses in working hours, and resume the 12hr 24/7 operations at the Plant.

Other Plants around Australia are now experiencing the same pain, with dramatic windback in hours and rates of pay at the Moorabin plant in Victoria and substantial industrial unrest over the enterprise agreement currently being negotiated at The Richlands Plant in Queensland.

A reduction in the normal operations is also being experienced in the Perth Plant.

These plants are under constant threat of closure or termination of their Enterprise Agreements taking rates of pay back to the Award.

ETU members throughout these tough times remain united and are working to recover the Business outcomes along with recovering their hard earnt Wages and Conditions.

Why should workers have to make the sacrifices when Management have, to a large degree, mis-managed the business, given their awareness of the ever increasing effects of competition in the Food and Beverage market place. 

Sydney manufacturing sector continues to face challenges

- Friday, October 30, 2015

ETU Organiser Steve Robinson recently gave the Sydney manufacturing sector a health check declaring that the sector is likely to remain in intensive care in the immediate term.

Steve said the manufacturing in the aluminium and copper sector continues to suffer with job losses and plant closures highlighting that a local Penrith plant was forced to close in recent months. Other company’s facing challenges include Coca Cola and OI Glass – both of which operate glass manufacturing plants in Western Sydney.

“Coca Cola and OI Glass are both coming under pressure from off shore competition and just like the steel industry, glass is doing it tough too.” said Steve.

Manufacturing in the engineering and mining sectors continue to decline coming off the back of the mining down turn which has resulted in many companies being taken over or merged.

Things are somewhat better in the food manufacturing sector with fewer redundancies while these companies also continue to provide pay increases and some new apprentice opportunities.

Steve said that the NSW Government and Federal Government both had a lot to answer when it comes to industry support.

“In recent years we have watched as the NSW and Federal Governments have walked away from the Australian manufacturing sector.” said Steve

“Government support and contracts are no longer guaranteed with the vehicle manufacturing industry and submarine debacle being clear examples of how our government have deserted this sector.

“I keep hearing all of this nonsense that the China Free Trade Agreement will be good for Australia but all I can see is further off shoring of Australian jobs through the lack of government support.” said Steve.

Some of the impacts being felt by ETU members in the manufacturing sector include:

  • Reductions in Working Hours.
  • Employers negotiating Lower rates of Pay for new starters (two Tier System)
  • Reductions in Wages either from reduced Hours or Negotiations by the Employer
  • Redundancies
  • Reductions in Conditions of Employment
  • Wage Freezes for 12mths to 2 years in many instances.
  • Low wage increases below the State Government Wage Policy
  • Company Takeovers
  • Company Closures


Bluescope Steel To Continue Production In The Illawarra

- Monday, October 26, 2015

ETU members at Bluescope Steel in the Illawarra have today learned their fate as the Bluescope Board announced that they will continue to produce Australian Steel by keeping the plant open after working with employees to secure savings.

The Board also announced that the company was successful in securing payroll tax concessions which would see the deferment of payroll tax payments meaning the Port Kembla Steel Works would remain open.

ETU Assistant Secretary Dave McKinley, who has been directly involved with the BlueScope matter, said that this was a bitter sweet win for ETU members who have today secured their jobs for the immediate future.

“Make no mistake the only reason Bluescope Steel will be open for business tomorrow is because of the selfless actions of the hard working and committed employee’s.” said Dave.

“ETU members were among thousands of workers who selflessly gave up hard fought conditions with the hope of a secure job at the end of it all.”

“Today is a victory for workers at Port Kembla, albeit a bitter sweet one.” Dave said.

Prior to the completion of EBA negotiations earlier this year Bluescope announced the future of steel making at Port Kembla would be under review.

Bluescope management stated that the board had demanded $200 million in savings or they would close steel making at Port Kembla. This would see the importation of Hot Rolled Coil used for production at the Springhill plant.

The combined unions understood that this was no idle threat and that the closure of steel making would amount to thousands of jobs lost in the region with only the Springhill plant left operating

As a result and following discussions with members, the combined unions agreed to withdraw applications for protected industrial action and enter into meaningful discussions on ways to keep the steel works open.

It was agreed to enter into negotiations mediated by Deputy President Hatcher of the Fair Work Commission and overseen by President Ross. Over the following eight weeks the combined unions negotiated with management over savings that would keep steel production open and save thousands of jobs.

This culminated in the unions taking a recommendation to members who voted to accept a wide range of changes to their working conditions including over 200 redundancies amongst wages employees and over 170 redundancies of salaried employees.

With this guarantee the Unions will be taking the new EBA to a vote next Thursday 5th November.


ETU Canberra Rally to Stop the China Free Trade Agreement

- Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Abbott Government negotiated the terms of the China Free Trade Agreement in secret because it comes at the cost of local jobs, worker safety, workplace rights and community safety.

Next Monday we're rallying in Canberra to stop the China Free Trade Agreement and demand the Government renegotiate the deal in the interests of the community.

Use your lunch break to join the rally – more information in the attached flyer. RSVP here.

August 10, 2015 at 12pm - 1pm

Garema Place, Canberra
25 Garema Pl
Canberra, ACT 2600

The public is overwhelmingly against this deal and making our message heard is crucial to protecting local jobs. Invite your friends and colleagues. See you there.

Make Rio Pay!

- Friday, May 29, 2015

In a court ruling on Friday the 15th of May, former Gove refinery worker Zorko Zabic, currently dying from asbestos poisoning, won his compensation case and was awarded $425,000 from Rio Tinto after originally being denied compensation due to a legal technicality.

Rio Tinto immediately launched a legal challenge attempting to stop workers making common law claims for asbestos and restrict them to the Territory’s inadequate workers’ compensation system, which denies justice to asbestos victims due to the long gestation period of the illness.

It is a bare-faced attempt to prevent asbestos victims making successful future compensation claims.

Rio Tinto must drop its High Court challenge in an asbestos compensation case in the Northern Territory, in which the mining giant is seeking to limit future claims from victims.


Blue Scope Steel negotiation kick off

- Monday, May 18, 2015

BlueScope negotiations are well underway and the company has made it clear that they are looking to wind back many of your hard fought conditions.

Their claims include:-

  • Cuts to your Security of Employment
  • Cuts to your Sick Leave entitlements
  • No More Meal Vouchers and Fewer Meal Allowances
  • Reduced Payment for Training
  • Changes to Consultation including removing Status Quo
  • Removal of the Significant Change Clause
  • No more Extended Leave and Discretionary Leave cut in half.
  • No Back Pay if negotiations drag on
  • Introduction of Part Time Employment
  • Forced 12 hours Shifts
  • Retention of rate reduced to 12 months

After BlueScope employees helped the company to turn a $300M deficit into a $75M profit over the last couple of years you would think the company had slashed enough but apparently they want a further $300M in profit in the near future.

The combined Unions have rejected these Company claims and we are pushing hard for the following:

  • Increases to wages and allowances that reflect the hard work put in by wage employees over the last 3 years,
  • New agreement to end 3 years from the end of the current agreement, with back pay to the expiry date,
  • Ability for wage employees to be trained to perform Team Leader functions (ie, level 5 & 6),
  • Morning tea and shower time to be written into the agreement to stop the ongoing attempts to remove them
  • Stopping staff from doing work covered by the agreement
  • A Fairer redundancy/selection process, and
  • Keep all current entitlements and conditions.
  • There are a number of other claims that we have not given up on and there are some others we feel should no longer be pursued.

We are holding feedback meetings for all Union members.

Venue: North Gate Visitors Centre
Dates: Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd May
Times: 6.30am and 6.30pm (both days)

Please make sure you attend one of these meetings so you have a chance for input and to hear more details about the negotiations from your Union representatives. Any questions can be directed to ETU Organiser Dave McKinley.

Simplot Members Vote for Industrial Action

- Monday, October 27, 2014

Members at Simplot Foods at Bathurst have voted to take their first ever industrial action. Along with AMWU members the ETU have taken a 24 hour stoppage and introduced ongoing overtime bans. This has been in direct response to the companies push for members to take an effective pay cut and wind back some of the long held conditions. The offer of 0% in the first year and then 1.5% and 2% in the following years has been rejected by a vast majority of employees and as a consequence the industrial action will continue for some time.

The negotiations have been hard fought with the company seemingly being bolstered by Federal Government comments regarding workers being to blame for problems at Toyota and SPC. Simplot's GM Terry O'Brien has contradicted himself on numerous occasions by telling the employees how bad the business is going and then announcing to the business community great annual results in all of his key financial indicators. Last year O’Brien told Bathurst members ‘your wages are not a problem, no one is getting rich here’ then during negotiations made statements in the media that wage increases will put investment at risk.

The Fair Work Commission has called on a compulsory conference for next week in an attempt to resolve the matter but the members are adamant that the company needs to make a realistic offer in order for them to lift their bans and not take further action.

Tony Abbott's Building Code

- Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Sunshine Sugar instrumentation skills upgrade welcomed.

- Monday, September 22, 2014

Over the last decade it has been a battle for ETU members to get fair and equitable outcomes through the EBA process at Sunshine Sugar.

A combination of factors contributed to the average outcomes for our members, one of the major ones being a refusal by the management to acknowledge that they had a skill retention problem.

The last couple of years have seen a gradual change in the Co Op’s attitude to trade staff training and remuneration.

This can be directly attributed to the constant agitation from ETU members to have the company upgrade their skills and also remunerate for those skills.

So it’s pleasing to be able to report that the company has introduced a process for existing Electrical staff to undertake a Tafe recognised accelerated apprenticeship that will deliver a certificate 3 in instrumentation and control qualification to our members.

There has also been an increase in the all purpose rate to reflect the extra skill acquisition.

A big congratulations goes to the members at Condong who led the charge, it has paid off for other members at the other mills as well.

In Unity - Geoff Prime.

Joy Global members vote to accept new agreement

- Monday, September 22, 2014

After a prolonged negotiation the members at Joy Global Moss Vale have voted to accept a new enterprise agreement. In the current manufacturing climate the negotiating team have done very well to retain all of their existing conditions as well as improving on some of the agreements provisions.

On top of a reasonable wage outcome the new agreement contains an improved apprentice clause that will reinstate upfront Tech fees as well as see the company pay for all text books. The new agreement also includes updated conditions for the redundancy process such as rate retention provisions for shift workers, an increase in the company payment for safety boots and a much fairer discipline procedure.

This was all achieved without the angst of any industrial action which has been a common approach in past negotiations.

Well done to the boys.

In Unity - Dave McKinley.