On September 10, almost all Esselte workers who had struck against an attempt to impose Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) went back to work with a union collective agreement. However, David Rojas, the site's union delegate, has been sacked and barred from the workplace.
Fifteen workers at Esselte, a stationary company in Sydney's south-west, had been on the grass for 14 weeks. Rojas explained that workers "had waged four strikes against the company over the last few years in a very united way. But in this strike workers were very frightened about the industrial relations laws." Rojas said that "one worker went back before the strike finished because the boss bribed him — offering him a more money and a supervisor position. The boss has never been so dirty than in this fight." "I have been sacked, but the boss has not given me any official letter saying this", Rojas told Green Left Weekly.
He told GLW that the Howard government's Work Choices legislation had helped intimidate workers. He said that migrant workers from non-English speaking backgrounds in particular were suffering.
Rojas said that the conditions in the new Esselte agreement are the same as they were before — a 3.5% pay increase for both years of the two-year agreement. He is planning to write a history of the dispute and talk to workers about how to fight against Work Choices.