'Unrelenting' AWA push
Striking workers at the Esselte Australia warehouse in Minto have described as "unrelenting" their employer's tactics in attempting to force them to sign individual contracts (AWAs).
According to a June 26 statement by the National Union of Workers (NUW), the workers were still being told they must sign the AWAs, as they entered their second week of industrial action.
Workers recently voted in support of a collective agreement. "The AWAs being offered are a backward step for us. We'll lose up to $50 per week!", Esselte worker Dave Rojas said. "Our employer is not listening — we want to stay on a collective workplace agreement. We do not want to go onto AWAs."
Esselte management earlier offered the workers individual contracts in June 2006, which they rejected. The company complained to the Office of Workplace Services, accusing the NUW of coercing the workers not to sign the AWAs. The union was cleared of the allegations.
NUW spokesperson Mark Ptolemy said that "Besides the lack of any financial benefit for the workers, they have made a democratic choice not to accept individual contracts because they simply do not believe in non-collective contracts. However, the company refuses to respect their choice.
"Under John Howard's industrial relations regime, companies think they can do whatever they want."