Foster's workers continue the battle

March 7, 2009

Maintenance workers at the Foster's Abbotsford plant voted on March 3 to accept redundancy packages from the company.

On February 12, Foster's announced that it intended to make the complete maintenance crew, of more than 100, redundant and outsource the maintenance to labour hire firm ABB Australia.

In recent weeks, the workers have been campaigning in the pubs across Melbourne against the forced redundancies. They have leafleted many drinkers and collected thousands of signatures on a petition to the management. The workers are members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

ABB is expected to rehire many of the workers as part of its maintenance crew.

While the workers have conceded the redundancies, they have pledged to not allow ABB an easy ride. The workers are challenging an attempt to have a drop in pay by as much as $5 per hour and the loss of allowances. They are also conscious that ABB will be able to pick and choose which of the workers it wants to return.

The March 3 meeting took place outside the Abbotsford management offices. In front of the media throng and led by the state secretaries of their respective unions, Steve Dargavel from the AMWU, and Dean Mighel from the ETU, pledged to continue the fight against ABB management as a united work force.

The workers were docked four hours' pay for this meeting, deemed as illegal action by the company.

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