Email workers on indefinite strike

Issue 

Email workers on indefinite strike

By Sue Bolton

MELBOURNE — Since April 11, 880 workers at two of the Email group of companies — Email-Lockwood and Martin Bright Steel — have been on an indefinite strike in their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement which includes a 15% wage rise with no trade-offs.

Email has offered 6% over three years with trade-offs including eliminating rostered days off and employing one person to operate two or three machines.

The campaign is being run across all 14 Email sites, and there have been rolling strikes and stoppages at four — Dorf Taps, AWB Anchor, Atlas Steels and Extruded Metals.

The Metal Trades Industry Association sees this dispute as a benchmark and has thrown its full support behind Email, one of its biggest member companies. The MTIA and Email have applied to the Industrial Relations Commission to declare the strike illegal and fine unions and individual workers.

The MTIA and Email are arguing that unions cannot campaign across sites, and all negotiations have to be done at enterprise level. They are also arguing that if any other group of workers supports workers on a picket line, then the strike can be declared illegal and the workers fined.

Since the dispute began, there have been two mass meetings of more than 1000 workers and a march on the Melbourne Stock Exchange. Around the clock picket lines are well supported.

Since Martin Bright Steel is the only manufacturer in Australia of bright bar steel, a component used in the vehicle industry, there are likely to be stand-downs throughout the vehicle industry in the coming week.

The dispute is at a crucial stage. Workers on the picket lines would welcome any support. Picket lines are located at Martin Bright Steel, Clifford Road in Sommerton and Email-Lockwood, Edwards Road in Huntingdale.