Alcoa strike set to continue as workers reject company offer

The strike, which involves Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) members at Alcoa aluminium refineries and bauxite mines in Western Australia, began on August 8. Photo: Alex Salmon

An indefinite strike by 1600 workers at Alcoa in Western Australia has entered its second month after a company offer was voted down by 80% of the workforce.

Alcoa’s proposed enterprise agreement would have weakened job security and, in some cases cut wages by up to 50%.

The strike, which involves Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) members at Alcoa aluminium refineries and bauxite mines in Western Australia, began on August 8.

Despite making $1.1 billion in profit last financial year, Alcoa has been threatening to strip away the pay and conditions of workers, some of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years.

After almost two years of stalled negotiations with the AWU, the company threatened to terminate the existing agreement.

In response, workers went on strike and have now sent a clear message to Alcoa during the vote on the company’s offer between August 28 and September 5, telling management they want a better agreement.

After the result was announced on September 7, the AWU executive held meetings with Alcoa management to discuss a resolution to the strike. No outcome was achieved.

Alcoa is still set to take its case to court on September 17 and seek a termination of the existing agreement.

One thousand AWU members and supporters rallied outside the Mandurah office of Liberal MP Andrew Hastie on September 7.

Protesters called on Hastie to introduce a motion in federal parliament to ensure that the current agreement not be terminated and that wages rise in line with the Consumer Price Index until both parties negotiate a new agreement.

Hastie did not commit to tabling such a motion. Instead, he pledged to write to Alcoa to encourage its management to continue negotiations with the union.

Solidarity with the strikers remains strong, with many passing drivers honking their support and donating money and supplies.

Partners, mothers and others stood on the various picket lines on “Women’s Wednesday” on September 5, to show solidarity and demonstrate the effect the dispute was having on the families of the striking workers.

[Donations and visits to the picket lines are greatly appreciated. To donate visit australianunions.org.au.]