Esselte attacks its workforce, again

February 15, 2008

Stationery giant Esselte, which last year attempted to force its workforce onto AWAs, is threatening compulsory redundancies against eight workers due to changes to "business processes".

In 2007 the company forced staff — members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) — to strike for 14 weeks while it refused to negotiate a collective union agreement, only offering AWAs that slashed significant award conditions.

The NUW has cried foul, accusing Esselte of organising "pay back" against last year's successful strike. "Esselte bosses are saying these redundancies will not be voluntary and decisions will be made on the basis of 'evaluation processes'," NUW state secretary Derek Belan said. "We have concerns that the workers who participated in the
14-week strike last year will be turfed out on the basis of an unfair assessment process."

The union is calling on Esselte to offer voluntary redundancies to employees. NUW organiser Mark Ptolemy told ABC news on February 11 that the company is instead planning to individually ask all workers to justify why they should keep their job.

Belan said that the company must commit to "use a fair redundancy process". He added that "This situation is a prime example of why workplace laws need to be changed as soon as possible".