On May 10, skilled trades members of the Electrical Trade Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union from Geelong and Broadmeadows Ford plants held a 24-hour stoppage.
They were demanding better pay and conditions under their enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) and took their protest to the street.
Ford wants to freeze the wages of all fixed-term employees at the current (2008) level one entry rate ($986.65 a week).
The company did not verify the length of its proposed wage freeze.
All new trade employees would also begin on that wage rate for the first three months of their employment.
Dean Mighell, ETU Victorian secretary, told Green Left Weekly: “One major hurdle remains between the skilled trades and the company — the definition for the following: ‘Where contract labour is used the terms and conditions of Ford trade employees will not be undermined.’ The skilled trades say, this means that contractors will only be engaged by Ford under terms and conditions that are no less favourable than what exists within Ford EBA.
“[Ford] has a completely opposite view of this definition. This is a fundamental principle we must win. Our members’ job security and future is in jeopardy. Ford will also employ less and less permanent trades and apprentices into the future if this issue is not resolved.”
The unions also demanded more apprentices. Ford has not hired any for more than three years but has now verbally offered a guaranteed minimum intake of 10 apprentices for 2011. However, it would not guarantee current fourth year apprentices continuing trade employment when they finished their apprenticeships.
ETU organiser Danny Timmers told GLW: “A resolution was endorsed at mass meetings of Geelong and Broadmeadows skilled trades members which states, ‘a stoppage of the performance of all work for a period of 48 hours; commencing May 18’.”