ALCOA workers reject enterprise agreement for third time

Alcoa workers are campaigning for job security.

About 1600 members of the Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) employed at various ALCOA Aluminium refineries and bauxite mines throughout Western Australia again sent a strong message to the American multinational to negotiate a fairer Enterprise Bargaining Agreement after the company’s EBA was voted down on March 2.

ALCOA’s latest EBA offer angered members — 61% of whom voted no — with its plan to weaken union structures on their worksites, change job descriptions to the detriment of workers and water down the company’s accident/sickness policy.

This is the third time since last September that an inferior contract offer from ALCOA has been voted down by the workers, who have been struggling for almost two years to protect their job security and working conditions. They held a 52-day strike in August and September last year, with picket lines at ALCOA sites in Kwinana, Pinjarra, Huntley, Wagerup and Willowdale.

The strike only ended after the AWU was able to secure an agreement from ALCOA that no workers would be replaced by casualisation or labour hire companies.

The ALCOA workers suffered a serious setback in December, when the Fair Work Commission (FWC) allowed the company to terminate its current EBA with the AWU at its worksites in Western Australia. The AWU leadership condemned the move, saying the FWC should not have accepted ALCOA’s argument that the dispute had prevented the company from operating efficiently, competitively and productively. The FWC should instead have looked at the company’s own internal auditing, which the AWU relied upon for its case, and showed that ALCOA had netted a profit of $2 billion in Australia in 2017.